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Title: The Boy Slaves
Author: Reid, Mayne, 1818-1883
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Boy Slaves" ***

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                                THE BOY SLAVES.

                              BY CAPT. MAYNE REID

           AUTHOR OF "THE DESERT HOME," "THE OCEAN WAIFS," ETC.


With Illustrations.

A NEW EDITION,
WITH A MEMOIR BY R. H. STODDARD.

NEW YORK:
THOMAS R. KNOX & CO.,
Successors to James Miller,
813 Broadway.

Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1864, by
TICKNOR AND FIELDS,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District
of Massachusetts.

Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1884, by
THOMAS R. KNOX & CO.,
in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.



    New York, January 1st, 1869.
    Messrs. Fields, Osgood & Co.:--

    I accept the terms offered, and hereby concede to you the exclusive
    right of publication, in the United States, of all my juvenile Tales
    of Adventure, known as Boys' Novels.

    MAYNE REID.

    TROW'S
    PRINTING AND BOOKBINDING COMPANY,
    NEW YORK.



[Illustration: THE DEATH OF GOLAH.]



AUTHOR'S NOTE.


Captain Mayne Reid is pleased to have had the help of an American Author
in preparing for publication this story of "The Boy Slaves," and takes
the present opportunity of acknowledging that help, which has kindly
extended beyond matters of merely external form, to points of narrative
and composition, which are here embodied with the result of his own
labor.

The Rancho, December, 1864.



MEMOIR OF MAYNE REID.


No one who has written books for the young during the present century
ever had so large a circle of readers as Captain Mayne Reid, or ever was
so well fitted by circumstances to write the books by which he is
chiefly known. His life, which was an adventurous one, was ripened with
the experience of two Continents, and his temperament, which was an
ardent one, reflected the traits of two races. Irish by birth, he was
American in his sympathies with the people of the New World, whose
acquaintance he made at an early period, among whom he lived for years,
and whose battles he helped to win. He was probably more familiar with
the Southern and Western portion of the United States forty years ago
than any native-born American of that time. A curious interest attaches
to the life of Captain Reid, but it is not of the kind that casual
biographers dwell upon. If he had written it himself it would have
charmed thousands of readers, who can now merely imagine what it might
have been from the glimpses of it which they obtain in his writings. It
was not passed in the fierce light of publicity, but in that simple,
silent obscurity which is the lot of most men, and is their happiness,
if they only knew it.

Briefly related, the life of Captain Reid was as follows: He was born in
1818, in the north of Ireland, the son of a Presbyterian clergyman, who
was a type of the class which Goldsmith has described so freshly in the
"Deserted Village," and was highly thought of for his labors among the
poor of his neighborhood. An earnest, reverent man, to whom his calling
was indeed a sacred one, he designed his son Mayne for the ministry, in
the hope, no doubt, that he would be his successor. But nature had
something to say about that, as well as his good father. He began to
study for the ministry, but it was not long before he was drawn in
another direction. Always a great reader, his favorite books were
descriptions of travel in foreign lands, particularly those which dealt
with the scenery, the people, and the resources of America. The spell
which these exercised over his imagination, joined to a love of
adventure which was inherent in his temperament, and inherited, perhaps
with his race, determined his career. At the age of twenty he closed his
theological tomes, and girding up his loins with a stout heart he sailed
from the shores of the Old World for the New. Following the spirit in
his feet he landed at New Orleans, which was probably a more promising
field for a young man of his talents than any Northern city, and was
speedily engaged in business. The nature of this business is not stated,
further than it was that of a trader; but whatever it was it obliged
this young Irishman to make long journeys into the interior of the
country, which was almost a _terra incognita_. Sparsely settled, where
settled at all, it was still clothed in primeval verdure--here in the
endless reach of savannas, there in the depth of pathless woods, and far
away to the North and the West in those monotonous ocean-like levels of
land for which the speech of England has no name--the Prairies. Its
population was nomadic, not to say barbaric, consisting of tribes of
Indians whose hunting grounds from time immemorial the region was;
hunters and trappers, who had turned their backs upon civilization for
the free, wild life of nature; men of doubtful or dangerous antecedents,
who had found it convenient to leave their country for their country's
good; and scattered about hardy pioneer communities from Eastern States,
advancing waves of the great sea of emigration which is still drawing
the course of empire westward. Travelling in a country like this, and
among people like these, Mayne Reid passed five years of his early
manhood. He was at home wherever he went, and never more so than when
among the Indians of the Red River territory, with whom he spent several
months, learning their language, studying their customs, and enjoying
the wild and beautiful scenery of their camping grounds. Indian for the
time, he lived in their lodges, rode with them, hunted with them, and
night after night sat by their blazing camp-fires listening to the
warlike stories of the braves and the quaint legends of the medicine
men. There was that in the blood of Mayne Reid which fitted him to lead
this life at this time, and whether he knew it or not it educated his
genius as no other life could have done. It familiarized him with a
large extent of country in the South and West; it introduced him to men
and manners which existed nowhere else; and it revealed to him the
secrets of Indian life and character.

There was another side, however, to Mayne Reid than that we have touched
upon, and this, at the end of five years, drew him back to the average
life of his kind. We find him next in Philadelphia, where he began to
contribute stories and sketches of travel to the newspapers and
magazines. Philadelphia was then the most literate city in the United
States, the one in which a clever writer was at once encouraged and
rewarded. Frank and warm-hearted, he made many friends there among
journalists and authors. One of these friends was Edgar Allan Poe, whom
he often visited at his home in Spring Garden, and concerning whom years
after, when he was dead, he wrote with loving tenderness.

The next episode in the career of Mayne Reid was not what one would
expect from a man of letters, though it was just what might have been
expected from a man of his temperament and antecedents. It grew out of
the time, which was warlike, and it drove him into the army with which
the United States speedily crushed the forces of the sister
Republic--Mexico. He obtained a commission, and served throughout the
war with great bravery and distinction. This stormy episode ended with a
severe wound, which he received in storming the heights of
Chapultepec--a terrible battle which practically ended the war.

A second episode of a similar character, but with a more fortunate
conclusion, occurred about four years later. It grew out of another war,
which, happily for us, was not on our borders, but in the heart of
Europe, where the Hungarian race had risen in insurrection against the
hated power of Austria. Their desperate valor in the face of tremendous
odds excited the sympathy of the American people, and fired the heart of
Captain Mayne Reid, who buckled on his sword once more, and sailed from
New York with a body of volunteers to aid the Hungarians in their
struggles for independence. They were too late, for hardly had they
reached Paris before they learned that all was over: Görgey had
surrendered at Arad, and Hungary was crushed. They were at once
dismissed, and Captain Reid betook himself to London.

The life of the Mayne Reid in whom we are most interested--Mayne Reid,
the author--began at this time, when he was in his thirty-first year,
and ended only on the day of his death, October 21, 1883. It covered
one-third of a century, and was, when compared with that which had
preceded it, uneventful, if not devoid of incident. There is not much
that needs be told--not much, indeed, that can be told--in the life of a
man of letters like Captain Mayne Reid. It is written in his books.
Mayne Reid was one of the best known authors of his time--differing in
this from many authors who are popular without being known--and in the
walk of fiction which he discovered for himself he is an acknowledged
master. His reputation did not depend upon the admiration of the
millions of young people who read his books, but upon the judgment of
mature critics, to whom his delineations of adventurous life were
literature of no common order. His reputation as a story-teller was
widely recognized on the Continent, where he was accepted as an
authority in regard to the customs of the pioneers and the guerilla
warfare of the Indian tribes, and was warmly praised for his freshness,
his novelty, and his hardy originality. The people of France and Germany
delighted in this soldier-writer. "There was not a word in his books
which a school-boy could not safely read aloud to his mother and
sisters." So says a late English critic, to which another adds, that if
he has somewhat gone out of fashion of late years, the more's the pity
for the school-boy of the period. What Defoe is in Robinson
Crusoe--realistic idyl of island solitude--that, in his romantic stories
of wilderness life, is his great scholar, Captain Mayne Reid.

R. H. Stoddard.



CONTENTS.


I The Land of the Slave

II. Types of the Triple Kingdom

III. The Serpent's Tongue

IV. 'Ware the Tide!

V. A False Guide

VI. Wade or Swim?

VII. A Compulsory Parting

VIII. Safe Ashore

IX. Uncomfortable Quarters

XI. 'Ware the Sand!

XII. A Mysterious Nightmare

XIII. The Maherry

XIV. A Liquid Breakfast

XV. The Sailor among the Shell-fish

XVI. Keeping under Cover

XVII. The Trail on the Sand

XVIII. The "Desert Ship"

XIX. Homeward Bound

XX. The Dance Interrupted

XXI. A Serio-Comical Reception

XXII. The Two Sheiks

XXIII. Sailor Bill Beshrewed

XXIV. Starting on the Track

XXV. Bill to be Abandoned

XXVI. A Cautious Retreat

XXVII. A Queer Quadruped

XXVIII. The Hue and Cry

XXIX. A Subaqueous Asylum

XXX. The Pursuers Nonplussed

XXXI. A Double Predicament

XXXII. Once more the mocking Laugh

XXXIII. A Cunning Sheik

XXXIV. A Queer Encounter

XXXV. Holding on to the Hump

XXXVI. Our Adventures in Undress

XXXVII. The Captives in Conversation

XXXVIII. The Douar at Dawn

XXXIX. An Obstinate Dromedary

XL. Watering the Camels

XLI. A Squabble between the Sheiks

XLII. The Trio Staked

XLIII. Golah

XLIV. A Day of Agony

XLV. Colin in Luck

XLVI. Sailor Bill's Experiment

XLVII. An Unjust Reward

XLVIII. The Waterless Well

XLIX. The Well

L. A Momentous Inquiry

LI. A Living Grave

LII. The Sheik's Plan of Revenge

LIII. Captured Again

LIV. An Unfaithful Wife

LV. Two Faithful Wives

LVI. Fatima's Fate

LVII. Further Defection

LVIII. A Call for Two More

LIX. Once More by the Sea

LX. Golah Calls Again

LXI. Sailor Bill Standing Sentry

LXII. Golah Fulfils his Destiny

LXIII. On the Edge of the Saära

LXIV. The Rival Wreckers

LXV. Another White Slave

LXVI. Sailor Bill's Brother

LXVII. A Living Stream

LXVIII. The Arabs at Home

LXIX. Work or Die

LXX. Victory!

LXXI. Sold Again

LXXII. Onward Once More

LXXIII. Another Bargain

LXXIV. More Torture

LXXV. En Route

LXXVI. Hope Deferred

LXXVII. El Hajji

LXXVIII. Bo Muzem's Journey

LXXIX. Rais Mourad

LXXX. Bo Muzem Back Again

LXXXI. A Pursuit

LXXXII. Moorish Justice

LXXXIII. The Jew's Leap

LXXXIV. Conclusion



THE BOY SLAVES.



CHAPTER I.

THE LAND OF THE SLAVE.


Land of Ethiope! whose burning centre seems unapproachable as the frozen
Pole!

Land of the unicorn and the lion,--of the crouching panther and the
stately elephant,--of the camel, the camelopard, and the camel-bird!
land of the antelopes,--of the wild gemsbok, and the gentle
gazelle,--land of the gigantic crocodile and huge river-horse,--land
teeming with animal life, and last in the list of my apostrophic
appellations,--last, and that which must grieve the heart to pronounce
it,--land of the slave!

Ah! little do men think while thus hailing thee, how near may be the
dread doom to their own hearths and homes! Little dream they, while
expressing their sympathy,--alas! too often, as of late shown in
England, a hypocritical utterance,--little do they suspect, while glibly
commiserating the lot of thy sable-skinned children, that hundreds--aye,
thousands--of their own color and kindred are held within thy confines,
subject to a lot even lowlier than these,--a fate far more fearful.

Alas! it is even so. While I write, the proud Caucasian,--despite his
boasted superiority of intellect,--despite the whiteness of his
skin,--may be found by hundreds in the unknown interior, wretchedly
toiling, the slave not only of thy oppressors, but the slave of thy
slaves!

Let us lift that curtain, which shrouds thy great Saära, and look upon
some pictures that should teach the son of Shem, while despising his
brothers Ham and Japhet, that he is not yet master of the world.

       *       *       *       *       *

Dread is that shore between Susa and Senegal, on the western edge of
Africa,--by mariners most dreaded of any other in the world. The very
thought of it causes the sailor to shiver with affright. And no wonder:
on that inhospitable seaboard thousands of his fellows have found a
watery grave; and thousands of others a doom far more deplorable than
death!

There are two great deserts: one of land, the other of water,--the Saära
and the Atlantic,--their contiguity extending through ten degrees of the
earth's latitude,--an enormous distance. Nothing separates them, save a
line existing only in the imagination. The dreary and dangerous
wilderness of water kisses the wilderness of sand,--not less dreary or
dangerous to those whose misfortune it may be to become castaways on
this dreaded shore.

Alas! it has been the misfortune of many--not hundreds, but thousands.
Hundreds of ships, rather than hundreds of men, have suffered wreck and
ruin between Susa and Senegal. Perhaps were we to include Roman,
Ph[oe]nician, and Carthaginian, we might say thousands of ships also.

More noted, however, have been the disasters of modern times, during
what may be termed the epoch of modern navigation. Within the period of
the last three centuries, sailors of almost every maritime nation--at
least all whose errand has led them along the eastern edge of the
Atlantic--have had reason to regret approximation to those shores, known
in ship parlance as the Barbary coast; but which, with a slight
alteration in the orthography, might be appropriately styled
"Barbarian."

A chapter might be written in explanation of this peculiarity of
expression--a chapter which would comprise many parts of two sciences,
both but little understood--ethnology and meteorology.

Of the former we may have a good deal to tell before the ending of this
narrative. Of the latter it must suffice to say: that the frequent
wrecks occurring on the Barbary coast--or, more properly, on that of the
Saära south of it--are the result of an Atlantic current setting
eastwards against that shore.

The cause of this current is simple enough, though it requires
explanation: since it seems to contradict not only the theory of the
"trade" winds, but of the centrifugal inclination attributed to the
waters of the ocean.

I have room only for the theory in its simplest form. The heating of the
Saära under a tropical sun; the absence of those influences--moisture
and verdure--which repel the heat and retain its opposite; the ascension
of the heated air that hangs over this vast tract of desert; the colder
atmosphere rushing in from the Atlantic Ocean; the consequent eastward
tendency of the waters of the sea.

These facts will account for that current which has proved a deadly
maelstrom to hundreds--aye, thousands--of ships, in all ages, whose
misfortune it has been to sail unsuspectingly along the western shores
of the Ethiopian continent.

Even at the present day the castaways upon this desert shore are by no
means rare, notwithstanding the warnings that at close intervals have
been proclaimed for a period of three hundred years.

While I am writing, some stranded brig, barque, or ship may be going to
pieces between Bojador and Blanco; her crew making shorewards in boats
to be swamped among the foaming breakers; or, riding three or four
together upon some severed spar, to be tossed upon a desert strand, that
each may wish, from the bottom of his soul, should prove _uninhabited_!

I can myself record a scene like this that occurred not ten years ago,
about midway between the two headlands above named--Bojador and Blanco.
The locality may be more particularly designated by saying: that, at
half distance between these noted capes, a narrow strip of sand extends
for several miles out into the Atlantic, parched white under the rays of
a tropical sun--like the tongue of some fiery serpent, well represented
by the Saära, far stretching to seaward; ever seeking to cool itself in
the crystal waters of the sea.



CHAPTER II.

TYPES OF THE TRIPLE KINGDOM.


Near the tip of this tongue, almost within "licking" distance, on an
evening in the month of June 18--, a group of the kind last alluded
to--three or four castaways upon a spar--might have been seen by any eye
that chanced to be near.

Fortunately for them, there was none sufficiently approximate to make
out the character of that dark speck, slowly approaching the white
sand-spit, like any other drift carried upon the landward current of the
sea.

It was just possible for a person standing upon the summit of one of the
sand "dunes" that, like white billows, rolled off into the interior of
the continent--it was just possible for a person thus placed to have
distinguished the aforesaid speck without the aid of a glass; though
with one it would have required a prolonged and careful observation to
have discovered its character.

The sand-spit was full three miles in length. The hills stood back from
the shore another. Four miles was sufficient to screen the castaways
from the observation of anyone who might be straying along the coast.

For the individuals themselves it appeared very improbable that there
could be any one observing them. As far as eye could reach--east, north,
and south, there was nothing save white sand. To the west nothing but
the blue water. No eye could be upon them, save that of the Creator. Of
His creatures, tame or wild, savage or civilized, there seemed not one
within a circuit of miles: for within that circuit there was nothing
visible that could afford subsistence either to man or animal, bird or
beast. In the white substratum of sand, gently shelving far under the
sea, there was not a sufficiency of organic matter to have afforded food
for fish--even for the lower organisms of _mollusca_. Undoubtedly were
these castaways alone; as much so, as if their locality had been the
centre of the Atlantic, instead of its coast!

We are privileged to approach them near enough to comprehend their
character, and learn the cause that has thus isolated them so far from
the regions of animated life.

There are four of them, astride a spar; which also carries a sail,
partially reefed around it, and partially permitted to drag loosely
through the water.

At a glance a sailor could have told that the spar on which they are
supported is a topsail-yard, which has been detached from its masts in
such a violent manner as to unloose some of the reefs that had held the
sail, thus partially releasing the canvas. But it needed not a sailor to
tell why this had been done. A ship has foundered somewhere near the
coast. There has been a gale two days before. The spar in question, with
those supported upon it, is but a fragment of the wreck. There might
have been other fragments,--others of the crew escaped, or escaping in
like manner,--but there are no others in sight. The castaways slowly
drifting towards the sand-spit are alone. They have no companions on the
ocean,--no spectators on its shore.

As already stated, there are four of them. Three are strangely
alike,--at least, in the particulars of size, shape, and costume. In
age, too, there is no great difference. All three are boys: the oldest
not over eighteen, the youngest certainly not a year his junior.

In the physiognomy of the three there is similitude enough to declare
them of one nation,--though dissimilarity sufficient to prove a distinct
provinciality both in countenance and character. Their dresses of dark
blue cloth, cut pea-jacket shape, and besprinkled with buttons of
burnished yellow,--their cloth caps, of like color, encircled by bands
of gold lace,--their collars, embroidered with the crown and anchor,
declare them, all three, to be officers in the service of that great
maritime government that has so long held undisputed possession of the
sea,--midshipmen of the British navy. Rather should we say, had been.
They have lost this proud position, along with the frigate to which they
had been attached; and they now only share authority upon a dismasted
spar, over which they are exerting some control, since, with their
bodies bent downwards, and their hands beating the water, they are
propelling it in the direction of the sand-spit.

In the countenances of the three castaways thus introduced, I have
admitted a dissimilitude something more than casual,--something more,
even, than what might be termed provincial. Each presented a type that
could have been referred to that wider distinction known as a
nationality.

The three "middies" astride of that topsail-yard were of course
castaways from the same ship, in the service of the same government,
though each was of a different nationality from the other two. They were
the respective representatives of Jack, Paddy, and Sandy,--or, to speak
more poetically, of the Rose, Shamrock, and Thistle,--and had the three
kingdoms from which they came been searched throughout their whole
extent, there could scarcely have been discovered purer representative
types of each, than the three reefers on that spar, drifting towards the
sand-spit between Bojador and Blanco.

Their names were Harry Blount, Terence O'Connor, and Colin Macpherson.

The fourth individual--who shared with them their frail
embarkation--differed from all three in almost every respect, but more
especially in years. The ages of all three united would not have
numbered his: and their wrinkles, if collected together, would scarce
have made so many as could have been counted in the crowsfeet indelibly
imprinted in the corners of his eyes.

It would have required a very learned ethnologist to have told to which
of his three companions he was compatriot; though there could be no
doubt about his being either English, Irish, or Scotch.

Strange to say, his tongue did not aid in the identification of his
nationality. It was not often heard; but even when it was, its utterance
would have defied the most accomplished linguistic ear; and neither from
that, nor other circumstance known to them, could any one of his three
companions lay claim to him as a countryman. When he spoke,--a rare
occurrence already hinted,--it was with a liberal misplacement of "h's"
that should have proclaimed him an Englishman of purest Cockney type. At
the same time his language was freely interspersed with Irish "ochs" and
"shures"; while the "wees" and "bonnys," oft recurring in his speech,
should have proved him a sworn Scotchman. From his countenance you might
have drawn your own inference, and believed him any of the three; but
not from his tongue. Neither in his accent, nor the words that fell from
him, could you have told which of the three kingdoms had the honor of
giving him birth.

Whichever it was, it had supplied to the Service a true British tar: for
although you might mistake the man in other respects, his appearance
forbade all equivocation upon this point.

His costume was that of a common sailor, and, as a matter of course, his
name was "Bill." But as he had only been one among many "Bills" rated on
the man-o'-war's books,--now gone to the bottom of the sea,--he carried
a distinctive appellation, no doubt earned by his greater age. Aboard
the frigate he had been known as "Old Bill"; and the soubriquet still
attached to him upon the spar.



CHAPTER III.

THE SERPENT'S TONGUE.


The presence of a ship's topsail-yard thus bestridden plainly proclaimed
that a ship had been wrecked, although no other evidence of the wreck
was within sight. Not a speck was visible upon the sea to the utmost
verge of the horizon: and if a ship had foundered within that field of
view, her boats and every vestige of the wreck must either have gone to
the bottom, or in some other direction than that taken by the
topsail-yard, which supported the three midshipmen and the sailor Bill.

A ship _had_ gone to the bottom--a British man-of-war--a corvette on her
way to her cruising ground on the Guinea coast. Beguiled by the
dangerous current that sets towards the seaboard of the Saära, in a dark
stormy night she had struck upon a sand-bank, got bilged, and sunk
almost instantly among the breakers. Boats had been got out, and men had
been seen crowding hurriedly into them; others had taken to such rafts
or spars as could be detached from the sinking vessel: but whether any
of these, or the overladen boats, had succeeded in reaching the shore,
was a question which none of the four astride the topsail-yard were able
to answer.

They only knew that the corvette had gone to the bottom,--they saw her
go down, shortly after drifting away from her side, but saw nothing more
until morning, when they perceived themselves alone upon the ocean. They
had been drifting throughout the remainder of that long, dark
night,--often entirely under water, when the sea swelled over them,--and
one and all of them many times on the point of being washed from their
frail embarkation.

By daybreak the storm had ceased, and was succeeded by a clear, calm
day; but it was not until a late hour that the swell had subsided
sufficiently to enable them to take any measures for propelling the
strange craft that carried them. Then using their hands as oars or
paddles, they commenced making some way through the water.

There was nothing in sight--neither land nor any other object--save the
sea, the sky, and the sun. It was the east which guided them as to
direction. But for it there could have been no object in making way
through the water; but with the sun now sinking in the west, they could
tell the east, and they knew that in that point alone land might be
expected.

After the sun had gone down the stars became their compass, and
throughout all the second night of their shipwreck they had continued to
paddle the spar in an easterly direction.

Day again dawned upon them, but without gratifying their eyes by the
sight of land, or any other object to inspire them with a hope.

Famished with hunger, tortured with thirst, and wearied with their
continued exertions, they were about to surrender to despair; when, as
the sun once more mounted up to the sky, and his bright beams pierced
the crystal water upon which they were floating, they saw beneath them
the sheen of white sand. It was the bottom of the sea, and at no great
depth,--not more than a few fathoms below their feet.

Such shallow water could not be far from the shore. Reassured and
encouraged by the thought, they once more renewed their exertions, and
continued to paddle the spar, taking only short intervals of rest
throughout the whole of the morning.

Long before noon they were compelled to desist. They were close to the
tropic of Cancer, almost under its line. It was the season of midsummer,
and of course at meridian hour the sun was right over their heads. Even
their bodies cast no shadow, except upon the white sand directly
underneath them, at the bottom of the sea.

The sun could no longer guide them; and as they had no other index, they
were compelled to remain stationary, or drift in whatever direction the
breeze or the currents might carry them.

There was not much movement any way, and for several hours before and
after noon they lay almost becalmed upon the ocean. This period was
passed in silence and inaction. There was nothing for them to talk about
but their forlorn situation, and this topic had been exhausted. There
was nothing for them to do. Their only occupation was to watch the sun,
until, by its sinking lower in the sky, they might discover its
_westing_.

Could they at that moment have elevated their eyes only three feet
higher, they would not have needed to wait for the declination of the
orb of day. They would have seen land, such land as it was; but, sunk as
their shoulders were almost to the level of the water, even the summits
of the sand dunes were not visible to their eyes.

When the sun began to go down towards the horizon, they once more plied
their palms against the liquid wave, and sculled the spar eastward. The
sun's lower limb was just touching the western horizon, when his red
rays, glancing over their shoulders, showed them some white spots that
appeared to rise out of the water.

Were they clouds? No! Their rounded tops, cutting the sky with a clear
line, forbade this belief. They should be hills, either of snow or of
sand. It was not the region for snow: they could only be sand-hills.

The cry of "land" pealed simultaneously from the lips of all,--that
cheerful cry that has so oft given gladness to the despairing
castaway,--and redoubling their exertions, the spar was propelled
through the water more rapidly than ever.

Reinvigorated by the prospect of once more setting foot upon land, they
forgot for the moment thirst, hunger, and weariness, and only occupied
themselves in sculling their craft towards the shore.

Under the belief that they had still several miles to make before the
beach could be attained, they were one and all working with eyes turned
downward. At that moment old Bill, chancing to look up, gave utterance
to a shout of joy, which was instantly echoed by his youthful
companions: all had at the same time perceived the long sand-spit
projecting far out into the water, and which looked like the hand of
some friend held out to bid them welcome.

They had scarce made this discovery before another of like pleasant
nature came under their attention. That was, that they were _touching
bottom_! Their legs, bestriding the spar, hung down on each side of it;
and to the joy of all they now felt their feet scraping along the sand.

As if actuated by one impulse, all four dismounted from the irksome seat
they had been so long compelled to keep; and, bidding adieu to the spar,
they plunged on through the shoal water, without stop or stay, until
they stood high and dry upon the extreme point of the peninsula.

By this time the sun had gone down; and the four dripping forms, dimly
outlined in the purple twilight, appeared like four strange creatures
who had just emerged from out the depths of the ocean.

"Where next?"

This was the mental interrogatory of all four: though by none of them
shaped into words.

"Nowhere to-night," was the answer suggested by the inclination of each.

Impelled by hunger, stimulated by thirst, one would have expected them
to proceed onward in search of food and water to alleviate this double
suffering. But there was an inclination stronger than either,--too
strong to be resisted,--sleep: since for fifty hours they had been
without any; since to have fallen asleep on the spar would have been to
subject themselves to the danger, almost the certainty, of dropping off,
and getting drowned; and, notwithstanding their need of sleep, increased
by fatigue, and the necessity of keeping constantly on the alert,--up to
that moment not one of them had obtained any. The thrill of pleasure
that passed through their frames as they felt their feet upon _terra
firma_ for a moment aroused them. But the excitement could not be
sustained. The drowsy god would no longer be deprived of his rights; and
one after another--though without much interval between--sank down upon
the soft sand, and yielded to his balmy embrace.



CHAPTER IV.

'WARE THE TIDE!.


Through that freak, or law, of nature by which peninsulas are shaped,
the point of the sand-spit was elevated several feet above the level of
the sea; while its neck, nearer the land, scarce rose above the surface
of the water.

It was this highest point--where the sand was thrown up in a "wreath,"
like snow in a storm--that the castaways had chosen for their couch. But
little pains had been taken in selecting the spot. It was the most
conspicuous, as well as the driest; and, on stepping out of the water,
they had tottered towards it, and half mechanically chosen it for their
place of repose.

[Illustration: 'WARE THE TIDE]

Simple as was the couch, they were not allowed to occupy it for long.
They had been scarce two hours asleep, when one and all of them were
awakened by a sensation that chilled, and, at the same time, terrified
them. Their terror arose from a sense of suffocation: as if salt water
was being poured down their throats, which was causing it. In short,
they experienced the sensation of drowning; and fancied they were
struggling amid the waves, from which they had so lately escaped.

All four sprang to their feet,--if not simultaneously, at least in quick
succession,--and all appeared equally the victims of astonishment,
closely approximating to terror. Instead of the couch of soft, dry sand,
on which they had stretched their tired frames, they now stood up to
their ankles in water,--which was soughing and surging around them. It
was this change in their situation that caused their astonishment;
though the terror quick following sprang from quite another cause.

The former was short-lived: for it met with a ready explanation. In the
confusion of their ideas, added to their strong desire for sleep, they
had forgotten the tide. The sand, dust-dry under the heat of a burning
sun, had deceived them. They had lain down upon it, without a thought of
its ever being submerged under the sea; but now to their surprise they
perceived their mistake. Not only was their couch completely under
water: but, had they slept a few minutes longer, they would themselves
have been quite covered. Of course the waves had awakened them; and no
doubt would have done so half an hour earlier, but for the profound
slumber into which their long watching and weariness had thrown them.
The contact of the cold water was not likely to have much effect: since
they had been already exposed to it for more than forty hours. Indeed,
it was not that which had aroused them; but the briny fluid getting into
their mouths, and causing them that feeling of suffocation that very
much resembled drowning.

More than one of the party had sprung to an erect attitude, under the
belief that such was in reality the case; and it is not quite correct to
say that their first feeling was one of mere astonishment. It was
strongly commingled with terror.

On perceiving how matters stood, their fears subsided almost as rapidly
as they had arisen. It was only the inflow of the tide; and to escape
from it would be easy enough. They would have nothing more to do, than
keep along the narrow strip of sand, which they had observed before
landing. This would conduct them to the true shore. They knew this to be
at some distance; but, once there, they could choose a more elevated
couch, on which they could recline undisturbed till the morning.

Such was their belief, conceived the instant after they had
got upon their legs. It was soon followed by another,--another
consternation,--which, if not so sudden as the first was, perhaps, ten
times more intense.

On turning their faces towards what they believed to be the land, there
was no land in sight,--neither sand-hills, nor shore, nor even the
narrow tongue upon whose tip they had been trusting themselves! There
was nothing visible but water; and even this was scarce discernible at
the distance of six paces from where they stood. They could only tell
that water was around them, by hearing it hoarsely swishing on every
side, and seeing through the dim obscurity the strings of white froth
that floated on its broken surface.

It was not altogether the darkness of the night that obscured their
view; though this was of itself profound. It was a thick mist, or fog,
that had arisen over the surface of the ocean, and which enveloped their
bodies; so that, though standing almost close together, each appeared to
the others like some huge spectral form at a distance!

To remain where they were, was to be swallowed up by the sea. There
could be no uncertainty about that; and therefore no one thought of
staying a moment longer on the point of the sand-spit, now utterly
submerged.

But in what direction were they to go? That was the question that
required to be solved before starting; and in the solution of which,
perhaps, depended the safety of their lives.

We need scarce say perhaps. Rather might we say, for certain. By taking
a wrong direction they would be walking into the sea,--where they would
soon get beyond their depth, and be in danger of drowning. This was all
the more likely, that the wind had been increasing ever since they had
laid down to rest, and was now blowing with considerable violence.
Partly from this, and partly by the tidal influence, big waves had
commenced rolling around them; so that, even in the shoal water where
they stood, each successive swell was rising higher and higher against
their bodies.

There was no time to be lost. They must find the true direction for the
shore, and follow it,--quickly too; or perish amid the breakers!



CHAPTER V.

A FALSE GUIDE.


Which way to the shore?

That was the question that arose to the lips of all.

You may fancy it could have been easily answered. The direction of the
wind and waves was landward. It was the sea-breeze, which at night, as
every navigator is aware, blows habitually towards the land,--at least,
in the region of the tropics, and more especially towards the hot Saära.

The tide itself might have told them the direction to take. It was the
in-coming tide, and therefore swelling towards the beach.

You may fancy that they had nothing to do but follow the waves, keeping
the breeze upon their back.

So they fancied, at first starting for the shore; but they were not long
in discovering that this guide, apparently so trustworthy was not to be
relied upon; and it was only then they became apprised of the real
danger of their situation. Both wind and waves were certainly proceeding
landward, and in a direct line; but it was just this direct line the
castaways dared not--in fact could not--follow; for they had not gone a
hundred fathoms from the point of the submerged peninsula when they
found the water rapidly deepening before them; and a few fathoms further
on they stood up to their armpits!

It was evident that, in the direction in which they were proceeding, it
continued to grow deeper; and they turned to try another.

After floundering about for a while, they found shoal water
again,--reaching up only to their knees; but wherever they attempted to
follow the course of the waves, they perceived that the shoal trended
gradually downward.

This at first caused them surprise, as well as alarm. The former
affected them only for an instant. The explanation was sought for, and
suggested to the satisfaction of all. The sand-spit did not project
perpendicularly from the line of the coast, but in a diagonal direction.
It was in fact, a sort of natural breakwater--forming one side of a
large cone, or embayment, lying between it and the true beach. This
feature had been observed, on their first setting foot upon it; though
at the time they were so much engrossed with the joyous thought of
having escaped from the sea, that it had made no impression upon their
memory.

They now remembered the circumstance; though not to their satisfaction;
for they saw at once that the guide in which they had been trusting
could no longer avail them.

The waves were rolling on over that bay--whose depth they had tried,
only to find it unfordable.

This was a new dilemma. To escape from it there appeared but one way.
They must keep their course along the combing of the peninsula--if they
could. But their ability to do so had now become a question--each
instant growing more difficult to answer.

They were no longer certain that they were on the spit; but, whether or
not, they could find no shallower water by trying on either side. Each
way they went it seemed to deepen; and even if they stood still but for
a few moments, as they were compelled to do while hesitating as to their
course--the water rose perceptibly upon their limbs.

They were now well aware that they had two enemies to contend with--time
and direction. The loss of either one or the other might end in their
destruction. A wrong direction would lead them into deep water; a waste
of time would bring deep water around them. The old adage about time and
tide--which none of them could help having heard--might have been
ringing in their ears at that moment. It was appropriate to the
occasion.

They thought of it; and the thought filled them with apprehension. From
the observations they had made before sunset, they knew that the shore
could not be near--not nearer than three miles--perhaps four.

Even with free footing, the true direction, and a clear view of the
path, it might have been a question about time. They all knew enough of
the sea to be aware how rapidly the tide sets in--especially on some
foreign shores--and there was nothing to assure them that the seaboard
of the Saära was not beset by the most treacherous of tides. On the
contrary, it was just this--a tidal current--that had forced their
vessel among the breakers, causing them to become what they now
were,--castaways!

They had reason to dread the tides of the Saära's shore; and dread them
they did,--their fears at each moment becoming stronger as they felt the
dark waters rising higher and higher around them.



CHAPTER VI.

WADE OR SWIM?


For a time they floundered on,--the old sailor in the lead, the three
boys strung out in a line after him. Sometimes they departed from this
formation,--one or another trying towards the flank for shallower water.

Already it clasped them by the thighs; and just in proportion as it rose
upon their bodies, did their spirits become depressed. They knew that
they were following the crest of the sand-spit. They knew it by the
deepening of the sea on each side of them; but they had by this time
discovered another index to their direction. Old Bill had kept his
"weather-eye" upon the waves; until he had discovered the angle at which
they broke over the "bar," and could follow the "combing" of the spit,
as he called it, without much danger of departure from the true path.

It was not the _direction_ that troubled their thoughts any longer; but
the _time_ and the _tide_.

Up to their waists in water, their progress could not be otherwise than
slow. The time would not have signified could they have been sure of the
tide,--that is, sure of its not rising higher.

Alas! they could not be in doubt about this. On the contrary, they were
too well assured that it _was_ rising higher; and with a rapidity that
threatened soon to submerge them under its merciless swells. These came
slowly sweeping along, in the diagonal direction,--one succeeding the
other, and each new one striking higher up upon the bodies of the now
exhausted waders.

On they floundered despite their exhaustion; on along the subaqueous
ridge, which at every step appeared to sink deeper into the water,--as
if the nearer to the land the peninsula became all the more depressed.
This, however, was but a fancy. They had already passed the neck of the
sand-spit where it was lowest. It was not that, but the fast flowing
tide that was deepening the water around them.

Deeper and deeper,--deeper and deeper, till the salt sea clasped them
around the armpits, and the tidal waves began to break over their heads!

There seemed but one way open to their salvation,--but one course by
which they could escape from the engulfment that threatened. This was to
forego any further attempt at wading, to fling themselves boldly upon
the waves, and _swim_ ashore!

Now that they were submerged to their necks, you may wonder at their not
at once adopting this plan. It is true they were ignorant of the
distance they would have to swim before reaching the shore. Still they
knew it could not be more than a couple of miles; for they had already
traversed quite that distance on the diagonal spit. But two miles need
scarce have made them despair, with both wind and tide in their favor.

Why, then, did they hesitate to trust themselves to the quick, bold
stroke of the swimmer, instead of the slow, timid, tortoise-like tread
of the wader?

There are two answers to this question; for there were two reasons for
them not having recourse to the former alternative. The first was
selfish; or rather, should we call it _self-preservative_. There was a
doubt in the minds of all, as to their ability to reach the shore by
swimming. It was a broad bay that had been seen before sundown; and once
launched upon its bosom, it was a question whether any of them would
have strength to cross it. Once launched upon its bosom, there would be
no getting back to the shoal water through which they were wading; the
tidal current would prevent return.

This consideration was backed by another,--a lingering belief or hope
that the tide might already have reached its highest, and would soon be
on the "turn." This hope, though faint, exerted an influence on the
waders,--as yet sufficient to restrain them from becoming swimmers. But
even after this could no longer have prevailed,--even when the waves
began to surge over, threatening at each fresh "sea" to scatter the
shivering castaways and swallow them one by one,--there was another
thought that kept them together.

It was a thought neither of self nor self-preservation; but a generous
instinct, that even in that perilous crisis was stirring within their
hearts.

Instinct! No. It was a thought,--an impulse if you will; but something
higher than an instinct.

Shall I declare it? Undoubtedly, I shall. Noble emotions should not be
concealed; and the one which at that moment throbbed within the bosoms
of the castaways, was truly noble.

There were but three of them who felt it. The fourth could not: _he
could not swim!_

Surely the reader needs no further explanation?



CHAPTER VII.

A COMPULSORY PARTING.


One of the four castaways could not swim. Which one? You will expect to
hear that it was one of the three midshipmen; and will be conjecturing
whether it was Harry Blount, Terence O'Connor, or Colin Macpherson.

My English boy-readers would scarce believe me, were I to say that it
was Harry who was wanting in this useful accomplishment. Equally
incredulous would be my Irish and Scotch _constituency_, were I to deny
the possession of it to the representatives of their respective
countries,--Terence and Colin.

Far be it from me to offend the natural _amour propre_ of my young
readers; and in the present case I have no fact to record that would
imply any national superiority or disadvantage. The castaway who could
not swim was that peculiar hybrid, or _tribrid_, already described; who,
for any characteristic he carried about him, might have been born either
upon the banks of the Clyde, the Thames, or the Shannon!

It was "Old Bill" who was deficient in natatory prowess: Old Bill the
sailor.

It may be wondered that one who has spent nearly the whole of his life
on the sea should be wanting in an accomplishment, apparently and
really, so essential to such a calling. Cases of the kind, however, are
by no means uncommon; and in a ship's crew there will often be found a
large number of men,--sometimes the very best sailors,--who cannot swim
a stroke.

Those who have neglected to cultivate this useful art, when boys, rarely
acquire it after they grow up to be men; or, if they do, it is only in
an indifferent manner. On the sea, though it may appear a paradox, there
are far fewer opportunities for practising the art of swimming than upon
its shores. Aboard a ship, on her course, the chances of "bathing" are
but few and far between; and, while in port, the sailor has usually
something else to do than spend his idle hours in disporting himself
upon the waves. The sailor, when ashore, seeks for some sport more
attractive.

As Old Bill had been at sea ever since he was able to stand upon the
deck of a ship, he had neglected this useful art; and though in every
other respect an accomplished sailor--rated A.B., No. 1--he could not
swim six lengths of his own body.

It was a noble instinct which prompted his three youthful companions to
remain by him in that critical moment, when, by flinging themselves upon
the waves, they might have gained the shore without difficulty.

Although the bay might be nearly two miles in width there could not be
more than half that distance beyond their depth,--judging by the shoal
appearance which the coast had exhibited as they were approaching it
before sundown.

All three felt certain of being able to save themselves; but what would
become of their companion, the sailor?

"We cannot leave you, Bill!" cried Harry: "we will not!"

"No, that we can't: we won't!" said Terence.

"We can't, and won't," asseverated Colin, with like emphasis.

These generous declarations were in answer to an equally generous
proposal: in which the sailor had urged them to make for the shore, and
leave him to his fate.

"Ye must, my lads!" he cried out, repeating his proposition. "Don't mind
about me; look to yersels! Och! shure I'm only a weather-washed,
worn-out old salt, 'ardly worth savin'. Go now--off wi' ye at onest! The
water'll be over ye, if ye stand 'eer tin minutes longer."

The three youths scrutinized each other's faces, as far as the darkness
would allow them. Each tried to read in the countenances of the other
two some sign that might determine him. The water was already washing
around their shoulders; it was with difficulty they could keep their
feet.

"Let loose, lads!" cried Old Bill; "let loose, I say! and swim richt for
the shore. Don't think o' me; it bean't certain I shan't weather it yet.
I'm the whole av my head taller than the tallest av ye. The tide mayn't
full any higher; an' if it don't I'll get safe out after all. Let loose,
lads--let loose I tell ye!"

This command of the old sailor for his young comrades to forsake him was
backed by a far more irresistible influence,--one against which even
their noble instincts could no longer contend.

At that moment, a wave, of greater elevation than any that had preceded
it, came rolling along; and the three midshipmen, lifted upon its swell,
were borne nearly half a cable's length from the spot where they had
been standing.

In vain did they endeavor to recover their feet. They had been carried
into deep water, where the tallest of them could not touch bottom.

For some seconds they struggled on the top of the swell, their faces
turned towards the spot from which they had been swept. They were close
together. All three seemed desirous of making back to that dark,
solitary speck, protruding above the surface, and which they knew to be
the head of Old Bill. Still did they hesitate to forsake him.

Once more his voice sounded in their ears.

"Och, boys!" cried he, "don't thry to come back. It's no use whatever.
Lave me to my fate, an' save yersels. The tide's 'ard against ye. Turn,
an' follow it, as I tell ye. It'll carry ye safe to the shore; an' if
I'm washed afther ye, bury me on the bache. Farewell, brave
boys,--farewell!"

To the individuals thus apostrophized, it was a sorrowful adieu; and,
could they have done anything to save the sailor, there was not one of
the three who would not have risked his life over and over again. But
all were impressed with the hopelessness of rendering any succor; and
under the still further discouragement caused by another huge wave, that
came swelling up under their chins, they turned simultaneously in the
water; and, taking the tidal current for their guide, swam with all
their strength towards the shore.



CHAPTER VIII.

SAFE ASHORE.


The swim proved shorter than any of them had anticipated. They had
scarce made half a mile across the bay, when Terence, who was the worst
swimmer of the three, and who had been allowing his legs to droop,
struck his toes against something more substantial than salt water.

"I' faith!" gasped he, with exhausted breath, "I think I've touched
bottom. Blessed be the Virgin, I have!" he continued, at the same time
standing erect, with head and shoulders above the surface of the water.

"All right!" cried Harry, imitating the upright attitude of the young
Hibernian. "Bottom it must be, and bottom it is. Thank God for it!"

Colin, with a similar grateful ejaculation, suspended his stroke, and
stood upon his feet.

All three instinctively faced seaward--as they did so, exclaiming--

"Poor Old Bill!"

"In troth, we might have brought him along with us!" suggested Terence,
as soon as he had recovered his wind; "might we not?"

"If we had but known it was so short a swim," said Harry, "it is
possible."

"How about our trying to swim back? Do you think we could do it?"

"Impossible!" asserted Colin.

"What, Colin, you are the best swimmer of us all! Do you say so?" asked
the others, eager to make an effort for saving the old salt, who had
been the favorite of every officer aboard the ship.

"I say impossible," replied the cautious Colin; "I would risk as much as
any of you, but there is not a reasonable chance of saving him, and
what's the use of trying impossibilities? We'd better make sure that
we're safe ourselves. There may be more deep water between us and the
shore. Let us keep on till we've set our feet on something more like
terra firma."

The advice of the young Scotchman was too prudent to be rejected; and
all three, once more turning their faces shoreward, continued to advance
in that direction.

They only knew that they were facing shoreward by the inflow of the
tide, but certain that this would prove a tolerably safe guide, they
kept boldly on, without fear of straying from the track.

For a while they waded; but, as their progress was both slower and more
toilsome, they once more betook themselves to swimming. Whenever they
felt fatigued by either mode of progression, they changed to the other;
and partly by wading and partly by swimming, they passed through another
mile of the distance that separated them from the shore. The water then
became so shallow, that swimming was no longer possible; and they waded
on, with eyes earnestly piercing the darkness, each moment expecting to
see something of the land.

They were soon to be gratified by having this expectation realized. The
curving lines that began to glimmer dimly through the obscurity, were
the outlines of rounded objects that could not be ocean waves. They were
too white for these. They could only be the sand-hills, which they had
seen before the going down of the sun. As they were now but knee-deep in
the water, and the night was still misty and dark, these objects could
be at no great distance, and deep water need no longer be dreaded.

The three castaways considered themselves as having reached the shore.

Harry and Terence were about to continue on to the beach, when Colin
called to them to come to a stop.

"Why?" inquired Harry.

"What for?" asked Terence.

"Before touching dry land," suggested the thoughtful Colin, "suppose we
decide what has been the fate of poor Old Bill."

"How can we tell that?" interrogated the other two.

"Stand still awhile; we shall soon see whether his head is yet above
water."

Harry and Terence consented to the proposal of their comrade, but
without exactly comprehending its import.

"What do you mean, Coley?" asked the impatient Hibernian.

"To see if the tide's still rising," was the explanation given by the
Scotch youth.

"And what if it be?" demanded Terence.

"Only, that if it be, we will never more see the old sailor in the land
of the living. We may look for his lifeless corpse after it has been
washed ashore."

"Ah! I comprehend you," said Terence.

"You're right," added Harry. "If the tide be still rising, Old Bill is
under it by this time. I dare say his body will drift ashore before
morning."

They stood still,--all three of them. They watched the water, as it
rippled up against their limbs, taking note of its ebbing and flowing.
They watched with eyes full of anxious solicitude. They continued this
curious vigil for full twenty minutes. They would have patiently
prolonged it still further had it been necessary. But it was not. No
further observation was required to convince them that the tidal current
was still carried towards the shore; and that the water was yet
deepening around them.

The data thus obtained were sufficient to guide them to the solution of
the sad problem. During that interval, while they were swimming and
wading across the bay, the tide must have been continually on the
increase. It must have risen at least a yard. A foot would be sufficient
to have submerged the sailor: since he could not swim. There was but one
conclusion to which they could come. Their companion must have been
drowned.

With heavy hearts they turned their faces toward the shore,--thinking
more of the sad fate of the sailor than their own future.

Scarce had they proceeded a dozen steps, when a shout, heard from
behind, caused them to come to a sudden stop.

"Avast there!" cried a voice that seemed to rise from out the depths of
the sea.

"It's Bill!" exclaimed all three in the same breath.

"'Old on my 'arties, if that's yerselves that I see!" continued the
voice. "Arrah, 'old on there. I'm so tired wadin', I want a short spell
to rest myself. Wait now, and I'll come to yez, as soon as I can take a
reef out of my tops'ls."

The joy caused by this greeting, great as it was, was scarce equal to
the surprise it inspired. They who heard it were for some seconds
incredulous. The sound of the sailor's voice, well known as it was, with
something like the figure of a human being dimly seen through the
uncertain mist that shadowed the surface of the water was proof that he
still lived; while, but the moment before, there appeared substantial
proof that he must have gone to the bottom. Their incredulity even
continued, till more positive evidence to the contrary came before them,
in the shape of the old man-o'-war's-man himself; who, rapidly splashing
through the more shallow water, in a few seconds stood face to face with
the three brave boys whom he had so lately urged to abandon him.

"Bill, is it you?" cried all three in a breath.

"Auch! and who else would yez expect it to be? Did yez take me for 'ould
Neptune risin' hout of the say? Or did yez think I was a mare-maid? Gee
me a grip o' yer wee fists, ye bonny boys. Ole Bill warn't born to be
drowned!"

"But how did ye come, Bill? The tide's been rising ever since we left
you."

"Oh!" said Terence, "I see how it is, the bay isn't so deep after all:
you've waded all the way."

"Avast there, master Terry! not half the way, though I've waded part of
it. There's wather between here and where you left me, deep enough to
dhrown Phil Macool. I didn't crass the bay by wading at all--at all."

"How then?"

"I was ferried on a nate little craft--as yez all knows of--the same
that carried us safe to the sand-spit."

"The spar?"

"Hexactly as ye say. Just as I was about to gee my last gasp, something
struck me on the back o' the head, making me duck under the wather. What
was that but the tops'l yard. Hech! I was na long in mountin' on to it.
I've left it out there afther I feeled my toes trailin' along the
bottom. Now, my bonny babies, that's how Old Bill's been able to rejoin
ye. Flippers all round once more; and then let's see what sort o' a
shore we've got to make port upon."

An enthusiastic shake of the hands passed between the old sailor and his
youthful companions; after which the faces of all were turned towards
the shore, still only dimly distinguishable, and uninviting as seen, but
more welcome to the sight than the wilderness of water stretching as if
to infinity behind them.



CHAPTER IX.

UNCOMFORTABLE QUARTERS.


The waders had still some distance to go before reaching dry land; but,
after splashing for about twenty minutes longer, they at length stood
upon the shore. As the tide was still flowing in they continued up the
beach; so as to place themselves beyond the reach of the water, in the
event of its rising still higher.

They had to cross a wide stretch of wet sand before they could find a
spot sufficiently elevated to secure them against the further influx of
the tide. Having, at length, discovered such a spot, they stopped to
deliberate on what was best to be done.

They would fain have had a fire to dry their dripping garments: for the
night had grown chilly under the influence of the fog.

The old sailor had his flint, steel, and tinder--the latter still safe
in its water-tight tin box; but there was no fuel to be found near. The
spar, even could they have broken it up, was still floating, or
stranded, in the shoal water--more than a mile to seaward.

In the absence of a fire they adopted the only other mode they could
think of to get a little of the water out of their clothes. They
stripped themselves to the skin, wrung out each article separately; and
then, giving each a good shake, put them on again--leaving it to the
natural warmth of their bodies to complete the process of drying.

By the time they had finished this operation, the mist had become
sensibly thinner; and the moon, suddenly emerging from under a cloud,
enabled them to obtain a better view of the shore upon which they had
set foot.

Landward, as far as they could see, there appeared to be nothing but
white sand--shining like silver under the light of the moon. Up and down
the coast the same landscape could be dimly distinguished.

It was not a level surface that was thus covered with sand, but a
conglomeration of hillocks and ridges, blending into each other and
forming a labyrinth, that seemed to stretch interminably on all
sides--except towards the sea itself.

It occurred to them to climb to the highest of the hillocks. From its
summit they would have a better view of the country beyond; and perhaps
discover a place suitable for an encampment--perhaps some timber might
then come into view--from which they would be able to obtain a few
sticks.

On attempting to scale the "dune," they found that their wading was not
yet at an end. Though no longer in the water, they sank to their knees
at every step, in soft yielding sand.

The ascent of the hillock, though scarce a hundred feet high, proved
exceedingly toilsome--much more so than wading knee-deep in water--but
they floundered on, and at length reached the summit.

To the right, to the left, in front of them, far as the eye could reach,
nothing but hills and ridges of sand--that appeared under the moonlight
of a whiteness approaching to that of snow. In fact, it would not have
been difficult to fancy that the country was covered with a heavy coat
of snow--as often seen in Sweden, or the Northern parts of
Scotland--drifted into "wreaths," and spurred hillocks of every
imaginable form.

It was pretty, but soon became painful from its monotony; and the eyes
of that shipwrecked quartette were even glad to turn once more to the
scarce less monotonous blue of the ocean.

Inland, they could perceive other sand-hills--higher than that to which
they had climbed--and long crested "combings," with deep valleys
between; but not one object to gladden their sight--nothing that offered
promise of either food, drink, or shelter.

Had it not been for their fatigue they might have gone farther. Since
the moon had consented to show herself, there was light enough to travel
by; and they might have proceeded on--either through the sand-dunes or
along the shore. But of the four there was not one--not even the tough
old tar himself--who was not regularly done up, both with weariness of
body and spirit. The short slumber upon the spit--from which they had
been so unexpectedly startled--had refreshed them but little; and, as
they stood upon the summit of the sand-hill, all four felt as if they
could drop down, and go to sleep on the instant.

It was a couch sufficiently inviting, and they would at once have
availed themselves of it, but for a circumstance that suggested to them
the idea of seeking a still better place for repose.

The land wind was blowing in from the ocean; and, according to the
forecast of Old Bill--a great practical meteorologist,--it promised ere
long to become a gale. It was already sufficiently violent--and chill to
boot--to make the situation on the summit of the dune anything but
comfortable. There was no reason why they should make their couch upon
that exposed prominence. Just on the landward side of the hillock
itself--below, at its base--they perceived a more sheltered situation;
and why not select that spot for their resting place?

There was no reason why they should not. Old Bill proposed it; there was
no opposition offered by his young companions,--and, without further
parley, the four went floundering down the sloping side of the
sand-hill, into the sheltered convexity at its base.

On arriving at the bottom, they found themselves in the narrowest of
ravines. The hillock from which they had descended was but the highest
summit of a long ridge, trending in the same direction as the coast.
Another ridge, of about equal height, ran parallel to this on the
landward side. The bases of the two approached so near, that their
sloping sides formed an angle with each other. On account of the abrupt
acclivity of both, this angle was almost acute, and the ravine between
the two resembled a cavity out of which some great wedge had been
cut,--like a section taken from the side of a gigantic melon.

It was in this re-entrant angle that the castaways found themselves,
after descending the side of the dune, and where they had proposed
spending the remainder of the night.

They were somewhat disappointed on reaching their sleeping-quarters, and
finding them so limited as to space. In the bottom of the ravine there
was not breadth enough for a bed,--even for the shortest of the
party,--supposing him desirous of sleeping in a horizontal position.

There were not six feet of surface--nor even three--that could strictly
be called horizontal. Even longitudinally, the bottom of the "gully" had
a sloping inclination: for the ravine itself tended upwards, until it
became extinguished in the convergence of its inclosing ridges.

On discovering the unexpected "strait" into which they had launched
themselves, our adventurers were for a time nonplussed. They felt
inclined to proceed farther in search of a "better bed," but their
weariness outweighed this inclination; and, after some hesitation, they
resolved to remain in the "ditch," into which they had so unwillingly
descended. They proceeded therefore to encouch themselves.

Their first attempt was made by placing themselves in a half-standing
position--their backs supported upon the sloping side of one of the
ridges, with their feet resting against the other. So long as they kept
awake, this position was both easy and pleasant; but the moment any one
of them closed his eyes in sleep,--and this was an event almost
instantaneous,--his muscles, relaxed by slumber, would no longer have
the strength to sustain him; and the consequence would be an
uncomfortable collapse to the bottom of the "gully," where anything like
a position of repose was out of the question.

This vexatious interruption of their slumbers happening repeatedly, at
length roused all four to take fresh counsel as to choosing a fresh
couch.

Terence had been especially annoyed by these repeated disturbances; and
proclaimed his determination not to submit to them any longer. He would
go in search of more "comfortable quarters."

He had arisen to his feet, and appeared in the act of starting off.

"We had better not separate," suggested Harry Blount. "If we do, we may
find it difficult to come together again."

"There's something in what you say, Hal," said the young Scotchman. "It
will not do for us to lose sight of one another. What does Bill say to
it?"

"I say, stay here," put in the voice of the sailor. "It won't do to
stray the wan from the t'other. No, it won't. Let us hold fast, thin,
where we're already belayed."

"But who the deuce can sleep here?" remonstrated the son of Erin. "A
hard-worked horse can sleep standing; and so can an elephant, they say;
but, for me, I'd prefer six feet of the horizontal--even if it were a
hard stone--to this slope of the softest sand."

"Stay, Terry!" cried Colin. "I've captured an idea."

"Ah! you Scotch are always capturing something--whether it be an idea, a
flea, or the itch. Let's hear what it is."

"After that insult to ma kintree," good-humoredly rejoined Colin, "I
dinna know whuther I wull."

"Come, Colin," interrupted Harry Blount, "if you've any good counsel to
give us, pray don't withhold it. We can't get sleep, standing at an
angle of forty-five degrees. Why should we not try to change our
position by seeking another place?"

"Well, Harry, as you have made the request, I'll tell you what's just
come into my mind. I only feel astonished it didn't occur to any of us
sooner."

"Mother av Moses!" cried Terence, jocularly adopting his native brogue;
"and why don't you out with it at wanse?--you Scatch are the thrue
_rid-tape_ of society."

"Never mind, Colly!" interposed Blount; "there's no time to listen to
Terry's badinage. We're all too sleepy for jesting; tell us what you've
got in your mind."

"All of ye do as you see me, and, I'll be your bail, ye'll sleep sound
till the dawn o' the day. Good night!"

As Colin pronounced the salutation he sank down to the bottom of the
ravine, where, stretched longitudinally, he might repose without the
slightest danger of being awakened by slipping from his couch.

On seeing him thus disposed, the others only wondered they had not
thought of the thing before.

They were too sleepy to speculate long upon their own thoughtlessness;
and one after the other, imitating the example set them by the young
Scotchman, laid their bodies lengthwise along the bottom of the ravine,
and entered upon the enjoyment of a slumber from which all the
kettle-drums in creation would scarce have awaked them.



CHAPTER XI.

'WARE THE SAND!


As the gully in which they had gone to rest was too narrow to permit of
them lying side by side, they were disposed in a sort of lengthened
chain, with their heads all turned in the same direction. The bottom of
the ravine, as already stated, had a slight inclination; and they had,
of course, placed themselves so that their heads should be higher than
their feet.

The old sailor was at the lower end of this singular series, with the
feet of Harry Blount just above the crown of his head. Above the head of
Harry were the heels of Terence O'Connor; and, at the top of all,
reclined Colin,--in the place where he had first stretched himself.

On account of the slope of the ground, the four were thus disposed in a
sort of _échelon_ formation, of which Old Bill was the base. They had
dropped into their respective positions, one after the other, as they
lay.

The sailor had been the last to commit himself to this curious couch; he
was also the last to surrender to sleep. For some time after the others
had become unconscious of outward impressions, he lay listening to the
"sough" of the sea, and the sighing of the breeze, as it blew along the
smooth sides of the sand-hills.

He did not remain awake for any great length of time. He was wearied, as
well as his young comrades; and soon also yielded his spirit to the
embrace of the god Somnus.

Before doing so, however, he had made an observation,--one of a
character not likely to escape the notice of an old mariner such as he.
He had become conscious that a storm was brewing in the sky. The sudden
shadowing of the heavens;--the complete disappearance of the moon,
leaving even the white landscape in darkness;--her red color as she went
out of sight;--the increased noise caused by the roaring of the
breakers; and the louder "swishing" of the wind itself, which began to
blow in quick gusty puffs; all these sights and sounds admonished him
that a gale was coming on.

He instinctively noted these signs; and on board ship would have heeded
them,--so far as to have alarmed the sleeping watch, and counselled
precaution.

But stretched upon terra firma--not so very firm had he but known
it--between two huge hills, where he and his companions were tolerably
well sheltered from the wind, it never occurred to the old salt, that
they could be in any danger; and simply muttering to himself, "the storm
be blowed!" he laid his weather-beaten face upon the pillow of soft
sand, and delivered himself up to deep slumber.

The silent prediction of the sailor turned out a true forecast. Sure
enough there came a storm; which, before the castaways had been half an
hour asleep, increased to a tempest. It was one of those sudden
uprisings of the elements common in all tropical countries, but
especially so in the desert tracts of Arabia and Africa,--where the
atmosphere, rarefied by heat, and becoming highly volatile, suddenly
loses its equilibrium, and rushes like a destroying angel over the
surface of the earth.

The phenomenon that had broken over the arenaceous couch,--upon which
slept the four castaways,--was neither more nor less than a
"sand-storm;" or, to give it its Arab title, a _simoom_.

The misty vapor that late hung suspended in the atmosphere had been
swept away by the first puff of the wind; and its place was now occupied
by a cloud equally dense, though perhaps not so constant,--a cloud of
white sand lifted from the surface of the earth, and whirled high up
towards heaven,--even far out over the waters of the ocean.

Had it been daylight, huge volumes, of what might have appeared dust,
might have been seen rolling over the ridges of sand,--here swirling
into rounded pillar-like shapes, that could easily have been mistaken
for solid columns, standing for a time in one place, then stalking over
the summits of the hills, or suddenly breaking into confused and
cumbering masses; while the heavier particles, no longer kept in
suspension by the rotatory whirl, might be seen spilling back towards
the earth, like a sand-shower projected downward through some gigantic
"screen."

In the midst of this turbulent tempest of wind and sand--with not a
single drop of rain,--the castaways continued to sleep.

One might suppose--as did the old man-o'-war's-man before going to
sleep--that they were not in any danger; not even as much as if their
couch had been under the roof of a house, or strewn amid the leaves of
the forest. There were no trees to be blown down upon them, no bricks
nor large chimney-pots to come crashing through the ceiling, and crush
them as they lay upon their beds.

What danger could there be among the "dunes?"

Not much to a man awake, and with open eyes. In such a situation, there
might be discomfort, but no danger.

Different however, was it with the slumbering castaways. Over them a
peril was suspended--a real peril--of which perhaps, on that night not
one of them was dreaming--and in which, perhaps, not one of them would
have put belief,--but for the experience of it they were destined to be
taught before the morning.

Could an eye have looked upon them as they lay, it would have beheld a
picture sufficiently suggestive of danger. It would have seen four human
figures stretched along the bottom of a narrow ravine, longitudinally
aligned with one another--their heads all turned one way, and in point
of elevation slightly _en échelon_--it would have noted that these forms
were asleep, that they were already half buried in sand, which,
apparently descending from the clouds was still settling around them;
and that, unless one or other of them awoke, all four should certainly
become "smoored."

What does this mean? Merely a slight inconvenience arising from having
the mouth, ears, and nostrils obstructed by sand, which a little
choking, and sneezing, and coughing would soon remove.

Ask the Highland shepherd who has imprudently gone to sleep under the
"blowin' sna'"; question the Scandinavian, whose calling compels him to
encamp on the open "fjeld"; interrogate Swede or Norwegian, Finn or
Lapp, and you may discover the danger of being "smoored."

That would be in the snow,--the light, vascular, porous, permeable
snow,--under which a human being may move, and through which he may
breathe,--though tons of it may be superpoised above his body,--the snow
that, while imprisoning its victim, also gives him warmth, and affords
him shelter,--perilous as that shelter may be.

Ask the Arab what it is to be "smoored" by sand; question the wild
Bedouin of the Bled-el-jereed,--the Tuarick and Tiboo of the Eastern
Desert,--they will tell you it is danger often _death_!

Little dreamt the four sleepers as they lay unconscious under that swirl
of sand,--little even would they have suspected, if awake,--that there
was danger in the situation.

There was, for all that, a danger, great as it was imminent,--the
danger, not only of their being "smoored," but stifled, suffocated,
buried fathoms deep under the sands of the Saära, for fathoms deep will
often be the drift of a single night.

The Arabs say that, once "submerged" beneath the arenaceous "flood," a
man loses the power to extricate himself. His energies are suspended,
his senses become numbed and torpid--in short, he feels as one who goes
to sleep in a snow-storm.

It may be true; but, whether or no, it seemed as if the four English
castaways had been stricken with this inexplicable paralysis. Despite
the hoarse roaring of the breakers, despite the shrieking and whistling
of the wind, despite the dust constantly being deposited on their
bodies, and entering ears, mouth, and nostrils,--despite the stifling
sensation one would suppose they must have felt, and which should have
awakened them,--despite all, they continued to sleep. It seemed as if
that sleep was to be eternal!

If they heard not the storm that raged savagely above them, if they felt
not the sand that pressed heavily upon them, what was there to warn,
what to arouse them from that ill-starred slumber?



CHAPTER XII.

A MYSTERIOUS NIGHTMARE.


The four castaways had been asleep for a couple of hours,--that is, from
the time that, following the example of the young Scotchman, they had
stretched themselves along the bottom of the ravine. It was not quite an
hour, however, since the commencement of the sand-storm; and yet in this
short time the arenaceous dust had accumulated to the thickness of
several inches upon their bodies; and a person passing the spot, or even
stepping right over them, could not have told that four human beings
were buried beneath,--that is, upon the supposition that they would have
lain still, and not got startled from their slumbers by the foot thus
treading upon them.

Perhaps it was a fortunate circumstance for them, that by such a
contingency they might be awakened, and that by such they _were_
awakened.

Otherwise their sleep might have been protracted into the still deeper
sleep--from which there is no awaking.

All four had begun to feel--if any sensation while asleep can be so
called--a sense of suffocation, accompanied by a heaviness of the limbs
and torpidity in the joints,--as if some immense weight was pressing
upon their bodies, that rendered it impossible for them to stir either
toe or finger. It was a sensation similar to that so well known, and so
much dreaded, under the name of _nightmare_. It may have been the very
same; and was, perhaps, brought on as much by the extreme weariness they
all felt, as by the superincumbent weight of the sand.

Their heads, lying higher than their bodies, were not so deeply buried
under the drift; which, blown lightly over their faces, still permitted
the atmosphere to pass through it. Otherwise their breathing would have
been stopped altogether; and death must have been the necessary
consequence.

Whether it was a genuine nightmare or no, it was accompanied by all the
horrors of this phenomenon. As they afterwards declared, all four felt
its influence, each in his own way dreaming of some fearful fascination
from which he could make no effort to escape. Strange enough, their
dreams were different. Harry Blount thought he was falling over a
precipice; Colin that a gigantic ogre had got hold of and was going to
eat him up; while the young Hibernian fancied himself in the midst of a
conflagration, a dwelling house on fire, from which he could not get
out!

Old Bill's delusion was more in keeping with their situation,--or at
least with that out of which they had lately escaped. He simply supposed
that he was submerged in the sea, and as he knew he could not swim, it
was but natural for him to fancy that he was drowning.

Still, he could make no struggle; and, as he would have done this,
whether able to swim or not, his dream did not exactly resemble the real
thing.

The sailor was the first to escape from the uncomfortable _incubus_;
though there was but an instant between the awakening of all. They were
startled out of their sleep, one after another, in the order in which
they lay, and inversely to that in which they had lain down.

Their awakening was as mysterious as the nightmare itself, and scarce
relieved them from the horror which the latter had been occasioning.

All felt in turn, and in quick succession, a heavy crushing pressure,
either on the limbs or body, which had the effect, not only to startle
them from their sleep, but caused them considerable pain.

Twice was this pressure applied, almost exactly on the same spot, and
with scarce a second's interval between the applications. It could not
well have been repeated a third time with like exactness, even had such
been the design of whatever creature was causing it; for, after the
second squeeze, each had recovered sufficient consciousness to know he
was in danger of being crushed, and make a desperate effort to withdraw
himself.

The exclamations, proceeding from four sets of lips, told that all were
still in the land of the living; but the confused questioning that
followed did nothing towards elucidating the cause of that sudden and
almost simultaneous uprising.

There was too much sneezing and coughing to permit of anything like
clear or coherent speech. The _shumu_ was still blowing. There was sand
in the mouths and nostrils of all four, and dust in their eyes. Their
talk more resembled the jibbering of apes, who had unwisely intruded
into a snuff shop, than the conversation of four rational beings.

It was some time before any one of them could shape his speech, so as to
be understood by the others; and, after all had at length succeeded in
making themselves intelligible, it was found that each had the same
story to tell. Each had felt two pressures on some part of his person;
and had seen, though very indistinctly, some huge creature passing over
him,--apparently a quadruped, though what sort of quadruped none of them
could tell. All they knew was, that it was a gigantic, uncouth creature,
with a narrow body and neck, and very long legs; and that it had feet
there could be no doubt: since it was these that had pressed so heavily
upon them.

But for the swirl of the sand-storm, and the dust already in their eyes,
they might have been able to give a better description of the creature
that had so unceremoniously stepped over them. These impediments,
however, had hindered them from obtaining a fair view of it; and some
animal,--grotesquely shaped, with a long neck, body, and legs,--was the
image which remained in the excited minds of the awakened sleepers.

Whatever it was, they were all sufficiently frightened to stand for some
time trembling. Just awaking from such dreams, it was but natural they
should surrender themselves to strange imaginings; and instead of
endeavoring to identify the odd-looking animal, if animal it was, they
were rather inclined to set it down as some creature of a supernatural
kind.

The three midshipmen were but boys, not so long from the nursery as to
have altogether escaped from the weird influence which many a nursery
tale had wrapped around them; and as for old Bill, fifty years spent in
"ploughing the ocean" had only confirmed _him_ in the belief, that the
"black art" is not so mythical as philosophers would have us think.

So frightened were all four, that, after the first ebullition of their
surprise had subsided, they no longer gave utterance to speech, but
stood listening, and trembling as they listened. Perhaps, had they known
the service which the intruder had done for them, they might have felt
gratitude towards it, instead of the suspicion and dread that for some
moments kept them, as if spell-bound, in their places. It did not occur
to any of the party, that that strange summons from sleep--more
effective than the half-whispered invitation of a _valet-de-chambre_, or
the ringing of a breakfast-bell--had in all probability rescued them
from a silent, but certain death.

They stood, as I have said, listening. There were several distinct
sounds that saluted their ears. There was the "sough" of the sea, as it
came swelling up the gorge; the "whish" of the wind, as it impinged upon
the crests of the ridges; and the "swish" of the sand as it settled
around them.

All these were the voices of inanimate objects,--phenomena of nature,
easily understood. But, rising above them, were heard sounds of a
different character, which, though they might be equally natural, were
not equally familiar to those who listened to them.

There was a sort of dull battering,--as if some gigantic creature was
performing a Terpsichorean feat upon the sand-bank above them; but
sharper sounds were heard at intervals,--screams commingled with short
snortings, both proclaiming something of the nature of a struggle.

Neither in the screams nor the snortings was there anything that the
listeners could identify as sounds they had ever heard before. They were
alike perplexing to the ears of English, Irish, and Scotch. Even old
Bill, who had heard, sometime or other, nearly every sound known to
creation, could not classify them.

"Divil take thim!" whispered he to his companions, "I dinna know what to
make av it. It be hawful to 'ear 'em!"

"Hark!" ejaculated Harry Blount.

"Hish!" exclaimed Terence.

"Wheesh!" muttered Colin. "It's coming nearer, whatever it may be.
Wheesh!"

There could be no doubt about the truth of this conjecture; for as the
caution passed from the lips of the young Scotchman, the dull hammering,
the snorts, and the unearthly screams were evidently drawing
nearer,--though the creature that was causing them was unseen through
the thick sand-mist still surrounding the listeners. These, however,
heard enough to know that some heavy body was making a rapid descent
down the sloping gorge, and with an impetuosity that rendered it prudent
for them to get out of its way.

More by an instinct, than from any correct appreciation of the danger,
all four fell back from the narrow trench in which they had been
standing,--each, as he best could, retreating up the declivity of the
sand-hill.

Scarce were they able to obtain footing in their new position, when the
sounds they had heard not only became louder and nearer, but the
creature that had been causing them paused close to their feet,--so
close that most of them could have touched it with their toes.

For all that, not one of the party could tell what it was; and after it
had passed,--on its way down the ravine,--and was once more lost to
their view amid the swirling sand, they were not a bit further advanced
in their knowledge of the strange creature that had come so near
crushing out their existence with its ponderous weight!

All that they had been able to see was a conglomeration of dark
objects,--resembling the head, neck, body, and limbs of some uncouth
animal,--while the sounds that proceeded from it were like utterances
that might have come from some other world; for certainly they had but
slight resemblance to anything the castaways had ever heard in
this--either upon sea, or land!



CHAPTER XIII.

THE MAHERRY.


For some length of time they stood conjecturing,--the boys with clasped
hands,--Old Bill near, but apart.

During this time, at intervals, they continued to hear the sounds that
had so astonished them--the stamping, the snorts, and the screaming,
though they no longer saw the creature that caused them.

The sand gully opened towards the sea, in a diagonal direction. It could
not be many yards to the spot, where it debouched upon the level of the
beach; and the creature that had caused them such a surprise--and was
still continuing to occupy their thoughts--must have reached this level
surface: though not to suspend its exertions. Every now and then could
be heard the same repetition of dull noises,--as if some animal was
kicking itself to death,--varied by trumpet-like snorts and agonizing
screams, which could be likened to the cry of no animal upon earth.

But that the castaways knew they were on the coast of Africa,--that
continent renowned for strange existences,--they might have been even
more disposed to a supernatural belief in what was near them; but as the
minutes passed, and their senses began to return to them, they became
more inclined to think that what they had seen, heard, and _felt_, might
be only some animal--a heavy quadruped--that had trampled over them in
their sleep.

The chief difficulty in reconciling this belief with the actual
occurrence was the odd behavior of the animal. Why had it gone up the
gorge, apparently _parenti passu_, to come tumbling down again in such a
confused fashion? Why was it still kicking and stumbling about at the
bottom of the ravine,--for such did the sounds proclaim it to be doing?

No answer could be given to either of these questions; and none was
given, until day dawned over the sand-hills. This was soon after; and
along with the morning light had come the cessation of the simoom.

Then saw the castaways that creature that had so abruptly awakened them
from their slumbers,--and, by so doing, perhaps, saved their lives. They
saw it recumbent at the bottom of the gorge, where they had so uneasily
passed the night.

It proved to be--what from the slight glimpse they had got of it, they
were inclined to believe--an animal, and a quadruped; and if it had
presented an uncouth appearance, as it stepped over them in the
darkness, not less so did it appear as they now beheld it, under the
light of day.

It was an animal of very large size,--in height far exceeding a
horse,--but of such a grotesque shape as to be easily recognizable by
any one who had ever glanced into a picture-book of quadrupeds. The long
craning neck, with an almost earless head and gibbous profile; the great
straggling limbs, callous at the knees, and ending in broad, wide
splitting hooves; the slender hind-quarters, and tiny, tufted
tail,--both ludicrously disproportioned,--the tumid, misshapen trunk;
but, above all, the huge hunch rising above the shoulders, at once
proclaimed the creature to be a dromedary.

"Och! it's only a kaymal!" cried Old Bill, as soon as the daylight
enabled him to get a fair view of the animal. "What on hearth is it
doin' 'ere?"

"Sure enough," suggested Terence, "it was this beast that stepped over
us while we were asleep! It almost squeezed the breath out of me, for it
set its hoof right upon the pit of my stomach."

"The same with me," said Colin. "It sunk me down nearly a foot into the
sand. Ah, we have reason to be thankful there was that drift-sand over
our bodies at the time. If not, the great brute might have crushed us to
death!"

There was some truth in Colin's observation. But for the covering of
sand,--which acted as a cushion,--and also from that which formed their
couch yielding beneath them, the hoof of the great quadruped might have
caused them a serious injury. As it was, none of them had received any
hurt beyond the fright which the strange intruder had occasioned them.

The singular incident was yet only half explained. They saw it was a
camel that had disturbed their slumbers; that the animal had been on its
way up the ravine,--perhaps seeking shelter from the sand-storm; but
what had caused it to return so suddenly back down the slope? Above all,
why had it made the downward journey in such a singular manner? Obscure
as had been their view of it, they could see that it did not go on
all-fours, but apparently tumbling and struggling,--its long limbs
kicking about in the air, as if it was performing the descent by a
series of somersaults.

All this had been mysterious enough; but it was soon explained to the
satisfaction of the four castaways, who, as soon as they saw the camel
by the bottom of the gorge, had rushed down and surrounded it.

The animal was in a recumbent position,--not as if it had lain down to
rest, but in a constrained attitude, with its long neck drawn in towards
its forelegs, and its head lying low and half-buried in the sand!

As it was motionless when they first perceived it, they fancied it was
dead,--that something had wounded it above. This would have explained
the fantastic fashion in which it had returned down the slope,--as the
somersaults observed might have been only a series of death struggles.

On getting around it, however, they perceived that it was not only still
alive, but in perfect health; and its late mysterious movements were
accounted for at a single glance. A strong hair halter, firmly noosed
around its head, had got caught in the bifurcation of one of its
fore-hoofs, where a knot upon the rope had hindered it from slipping
through the deep split. This had first caused it to trip up, and tumble
head over heels,--inaugurating that series of struggles which had ended
in transporting it back to the bottom of the ravine,--where it now lay
with the trailing end of the long halter knotted inextricably around its
legs.



CHAPTER XIV.

A LIQUID BREAKFAST.


Melancholy as was the situation of the self-caught camel, it was a
joyful sight to those who beheld it. Hungry as they were, its flesh
would provide them with food; and thirsting as they were, they knew that
inside its stomach would be found a supply of water!

Such were their first thoughts as they came around it.

They soon perceived, however, that to satisfy the latter appetite it
would not be necessary for them to kill the camel. Upon the top of its
hump was a small, flat pad or saddle, firmly held in its place by a
strong leathern band passing under the animal's belly. This proved it to
be a "maherry," or riding camel,--one of those swift creatures used by
the Arabs in their long rapid journeys across the deserts; and which are
common among the tribes inhabiting the Saära.

It was not this saddle that gratified the eyes of our adventurers, but a
bag, tightly strapped to it, and resting behind the hump of the maherry.
This bag was of goat-skin, and upon examination was found to be nearly
half-full of water. It was, in fact, the "Gerba," or water-skin,
belonging to whoever had been the owner of the animal,--an article of
camel equipment more essential than the saddle itself.

The four castaways, suffering the torture of thirst, made no scruple
about appropriating the contents of the bag, and, in the shortest
possible time, it was stripped from the back of the maherry, its stopper
taken out, and the precious fluid extracted from it by all four, in
greedy succession, until its light weight and collapsed sides declared
it to be empty.

Their thirst being thus opportunely assuaged, a council was next held,
as to what they should do to appease the other appetite.

Should they kill the camel?

It appeared to be their only chance; and the impetuous Terence had
already unsheathed his midshipman's dirk, with the design of burying it
in the body of the animal.

Colin, however, more prudent in counsel, cried to him to hold his
hand,--at least until they should give the subject a more thorough
consideration.

On this suggestion they proceeded to debate the point between them. They
were of different opinions, and equally divided. Two,--Terence and Harry
Blount,--were for immediately killing the maherry, and making their
breakfast upon its flesh; while the sailor joined Colin in voting that
it should be reprieved.

"Let us first make use of the animal to help carry us somewhere," urged
the young Scotchman. "We can go without food a day longer. Then, if we
find nothing, we can butcher this beast."

"But what's to be found in such a country as this?" inquired Harry
Blount. "Look around you! There's nothing green but the sea itself.
There isn't anything eatable within sight,--not so much as would make a
dinner for a dormouse!"

"Perhaps," rejoined Colin, "when we've travelled a few miles, we may
come upon a different sort of country. We can keep along the coast. Why
shouldn't we find shell-fish,--enough to keep us alive? See,--yonder's a
dark place down upon the beach. I shouldn't wonder if there's some
there."

The glances of all were instantly directed towards the beach,--excepting
those of Sailor Bill. His were fixed on a different object; and an
exclamation that escaped him--as well as a movement that accompanied
it--arrested the attention of his companions, causing them to turn their
eyes upon him.

"Shell-fish be blow'd," cried Bill, "here's something better for
breakfast than cowld oysters. Look!"

The sailor, as he spoke, pointed to an oval-shaped object, something
larger than a cocoa-nut, appearing between the hind legs of the maherry.

"It's a shemale!" added he, "and's had a calf not long ago. Look at the
'eldher,' and them tits. They're swelled wi' milk. There'll be enough
for the whole of us, I warrant yez."

As if to make sure of what he said, the sailor dropped down upon his
knees by the hind-quarters of the prostrate camel; and, taking one of
the teats in his mouth, commenced drawing forth the lacteal fluid which
the udder contained.

The animal made no resistance. It might have wondered at the curious
"calf" that had thus attached himself to its teats; but only at the
oddness of his color and costume; for no doubt it had often before been
similarly served by its African owner.

"Fust rate!" cried Bill, desisting for a moment to take breath. "Ayqual
to the richest crame; if we'd only a bite av bred to go along wi' it, or
some av your Scotch porritch, Master Colin. But I forgets. My brave
youngsters," continued he, rising up and standing to one side, "yez be
all hungrier than I am. Go it, wan after another: there'll be enough for
yez all."

Thus invited, and impelled by their hungry cravings, the three, one
after another, knelt down as the sailor had done, and drank copiously
from that sweet "fountain of the desert."

Taking it in turns, they continued "sucking," until each had swallowed
about a pint and a half of the nutritious fluid when, the udder of the
camel becoming dry, told that her supply of milk was, for the time,
exhausted.



CHAPTER XV.

THE SAILOR AMONG THE SHELL-FISH.


It was no longer a question of slaying the camel. That would be killing
the goose that gave the golden eggs. Though they were still very hungry,
the rich milk had to some extent taken the keen edge off their
appetites; and all declared they could now go several hours without
eating.

The next question was: where were they to go?

The reader may wonder that this was a question at all. Having been told
that the camel carried a saddle, and was otherwise caparisoned, it will
naturally be conjectured that the animal had got loose from some owner,
and was simply straying. This was the very hypothesis that passed before
the mind of our adventurers. How could they have conjectured otherwise?

Indeed it was scarce a guess. The circumstances told them to a certainty
that the camel must have strayed from its owner. The only question was:
where that owner might be found.

By reading, or otherwise, they possessed enough knowledge of the coast,
on which they had been cast away, to know that the proprietor of the
"stray" would be some kind of an Arab; and that he would be found
living--not in a house or a town--but in a tent; in all likelihood
associated with a number of other Arabs, in an "encampment."

It required not much reasoning to arrive at these conclusions; and our
adventurers had come to them almost on that instant, when they first set
eyes on the caparisoned camel.

You may wonder that they did not instantly set forth in search of the
master of the maherry; or of the tent or encampment from which the
latter should have strayed. One might suppose, that this would have been
their first movement.

On the contrary, it was likely to be their very last; and for sufficient
reasons,--which will be discovered in the conversation that ensued,
after they had swallowed their liquid breakfasts.

Terence had proposed adopting this course,--that is, to go in search of
the man from whom the maherry must have wandered. The young Irishman had
never been a great reader,--at all events no account of the many
"lamentable shipwrecks on the Barbary coast" had ever fallen into his
hands,--and he knew nothing of the terrible reputation of its people.
Neither had Bill obtained any knowledge of it from books; but, for all
that,--thanks to many a forecastle yarn,--the old sailor was well
informed both about the character of the coast on which they had
suffered shipwreck, and its inhabitants. Bill had the best of reasons
for dreading the denizens of the Saäran desert.

"Sure they're not cannibals?" urged Terence. "They won't eat us, any
how?"

"In troth I'm not so shure av that, Masther Terry," replied Bill. "Even
supposin' they won't ate us, they'll do worse."

"Worse!"

"Aye, worse, I tell you. They'd torture us, till death would be a
blissin'."

"How do you know they would?"

"Ach, Masther Terry!" sighed the old sailor, assuming an air of
solemnity, such as his young comrades had never before witnessed upon
his usually cheerful countenance; "I could tell yez something that 'ud
convince ye of the truth av what I've been sayin', an' that'll gie ye a
hidear av what we've got to expect if we fall into the 'ands av these
feerocious Ayrabs."

Bill had already hinted at the prospective peril of an encounter with
the people of the country.

"Tell us, Bill. What is it?"

"Well, young masthers, it beant much,--only that my own brother was
wrecked som'ere on this same coast. That was ten years agone. He never
returned to owld Hengland."

"Perhaps he was drowned?"

"Betther for 'im, poor boy, if he 'ad. No, he 'adn't that luck. The
crew,--it was a tradin' vessel, and there was tin o' them,--all got safe
ashore. They were taken prisoners as they landed by a lot o' Ayrabs.
Only one av the tin got home to tell the tale; and he wouldn't a 'ad the
chance but for a Jew merchant at Mogador, that found he had rich
relations as 'ud pay well to ransom him. I see him a wee while after he
got back to Hengland; and he tell me what he had to go through, and my
hown brother as well: for Jim,--that be my brother's name,--was with the
tribe as took 'im up the counthry. None o' yez iver heerd o' cruelties
like they 'ad to put up with. Death in any way would be aisy, compared
to what they 'ad to hendure. Poor Jim! I suppose he's dead long ago.
Tough as I be myself, I don't believe I could a stood it a week,--let
alone tin years. Talk o' knockin' about like a Turk's head. They were
knocked about, an' beat, an' bullied, an' kicked, an' starved,--worse
than the laziest lubber as ever skulked about the decks o' a ship. No,
Masther Terry, we mustn't think av thryin' to find the owner av the
beest; but do everythink we can to keep out o' the way av both him and
his."

"What would you advise us to do, Bill?"

"I don't know much 'bout where we be," replied the sailor; "but
wheresomever it is, our best plan are to hug by the coast, an' keep
within sight o' the water. If we go innard, we're sure to get lost one
way or t' other. By keepin' south'ard we may come to some thradin' port
av the Portagee."

"We'd better start at once, then," suggested the impatient Terence.

"No, Masther Terry," said the sailor; "not afore night. We musn't leave
'eer till it gets dark. We'll 'ave to thravel betwane two days."

"What!" simultaneously exclaimed the three midshipmen. "Stay here till
night! Impossible!"

"Aye, lads! an' we must hide, too. Shure as ye are livin' there'll be
somebody afther this sthray kaymal,--in a wee while, too, as ye'll see.
If we ventured out durin' the daylight, they'd be sure to see us from
the 'ills. It's sayed, the thievin' schoundrels always keep watch when
there's been a wreck upon the coast; an' I'll be bound this beest
belongs to some av them same wreckers."

"But what shall we do for food?" asked one of the party; "we'll be
famished before nightfall! The camel, having nothing to eat or drink,
won't yield any more milk."

This interrogative conjecture was probably too near the truth. No one
made answer to it. Colin's eyes were again turned towards the beach.
Once more he directed the thoughts of his comrades to the shell-fish.

"Hold your hands, youngsthers," said the sailor. "Lie close 'eer behind
the 'ill, an' I'll see if there's any shell-fish that we can make a meal
av. Now that the sun's up, it won't do to walk down there. I must make a
crawl av it."

So saying, the old salt, after skulking some distance farther down the
sand gully, threw himself flat upon his face, and advanced in this
attitude, like some gigantic lizard crawling across the sand.

The tide was out; but the wet beach, lately covered by the sea,
commenced at a short distance from the base of the "dunes."

After a ten minutes' struggle, Bill succeeded in reaching the
dark-looking spot where Colin had conjectured there might be shell-fish.

The old sailor was soon seen busily engaged about something; and from
his movements it was evident, that his errand was not to prove
fruitless. His hands were extended in different directions; and then at
short intervals withdrawn, and plunged into the capacious pockets of his
pea-jacket.

[Illustration: THE OLD SAILOR SUCCEEDS IN GATHERING SOME SHELL-FISH.]

After these gestures had been continued for about half an hour, he was
seen to "slew" himself round, and come crawling back towards the
sand-hills.

His return was effected more slowly than his departure; and it could be
seen that he was heavily weighted.

On getting back into the gorge, he was at once relieved of his load,
which proved to consist of about three hundred "cockles,"--as he called
the shell-fish he had collected,--and which were found to be a species
of mussel.

They were not only edible, but delicious,--at least they seemed so to
those who were called upon to swallow them.

This seasonable supply did a great deal towards allaying the appetites
of all; and even Terence now declared himself contented to remain
concealed, until night should afford them an opportunity of escape from
the monotony of their situation.



CHAPTER XVI.

KEEPING UNDER COVER.


From the spot, where the camel still lay couched in his "entetherment,"
the sea was not visible to one lying along the ground. It was only by
standing erect, and looking over a spur of the sand-ridge, that the
beach could be seen, and the ocean beyond it.

There would be no danger, therefore, of their being discovered, by any
one coming along the strand--provided they kept in a crouching attitude
behind the ridge, which, sharply crested, like a snow-wreath, formed a
sort of parapet in front of them. They might have been easily seen from
the summit of any of the "dunes" to the rear; but there was not much
likelihood of any one approaching them in that direction. The country
inward appeared to be a labyrinth of sand-hills--with no opening that
would indicate a passage for either man or beast. The camel, in all
probability, had taken to the gorge--guided by its instincts--there to
seek shelter from the sand-storm. The fact of its carrying a saddle
showed that its owner must have been upon the march, at the time it
escaped from him. Had our adventurers been better acquainted with Saäran
customs, they would have concluded that this had been the case: for they
would have known that, on the approach of a "shuma"--the "forecasts" of
which are well known--the Bedouins at once, and in all haste, break up
their encampments; and put themselves, and their whole personal
property, in motion. Otherwise, they would be in danger of getting
smoored under the settling sand-drift.

Following the counsels of the sailor--whose desert knowledge appeared as
extensive as if it, and not the sea, had been his habitual home--our
adventurers crouched down in such a way as not to be seen by any one
passing along the beach.

Scarcely had they placed themselves in this humble attitude, when Old
Bill--who had been keeping watch all the while, with only the upper half
of his head elevated above the combing of the sand-wreath--announced, by
a low exclamation, that something was in sight.

Two dark forms were seen coming along the shore, from the southward; but
at so great a distance that it was impossible to tell what sort of
creatures they might turn out.

"Let me have a look," proposed Colin. "By good luck, I've got my glass.
It was in my pocket as we escaped from the ship; and I didn't think of
throwing it away."

As the young Scotchman spoke, he took from the breast of his dreadnought
jacket, a small telescope,--which, when drawn out to its full extent,
exhibited a series of tubes, _en échelon_, about half a yard in length.
Directing it upon the dark objects,--at the same time taking the
precaution to keep his own head as low down as possible,--he at once
proclaimed their character.

"They're two bonny bodies," said he, "dressed in all the colors of the
rainbow. I can see bright shawls, and red caps, and striped cloaks. One
is mounted on a horse; the other bestrides a camel,--just such a one as
this by our side. They're coming along slowly; and appear to be staring
about them."

"Ah, that be hit," said Old Bill. "It be the howners of this 'eer brute.
They be on the sarch for her. Lucky the drift-sand hae covered her
tracks,--else they'd come right on to us. Lie low, Masther Colin. We
mayn't show our heeds over the combin' o' the sand. They'd be sure to
see the size o' a saxpence. We maun keep awthegither oot o' sicht."

One of the old sailor's peculiarities--or, perhaps, it may have been an
eccentricity--was, that in addressing himself to his companions, he was
almost sure to assume the national _patois_ of the individual spoken to.
In anything like a continued conversation with Harry Blount, his "h's"
were handled in a most unfashionable manner; and while talking with
Terence, the Milesian came from his lips, in a brogue almost as pure as
Tipperary could produce.

In a _tête-à-tête_ with Colin, the listener might have sworn that Bill
was more Scotch than the young Macpherson himself.

Colin perceived the justice of the sailor's suggestion; and immediately
ducked his head below the level of the parapet of sand.

This placed our adventurers in a position at once irksome and uncertain.
Curiosity, if nothing else, rendered them desirous to watch the
movements of the men who were approaching. Without noting these, they
would not be able to tell when they might again raise their heads above
the ridge; and might do so, just at the time when the horseman and the
rider of the maherry were either opposite or within sight of them.

As the sailor had said, any dark object of the size of a sixpence would
be seen if presented above the smooth combing of snow-white sand; and it
was evident to all that for one of them to look over it might lead to
their being discovered.

While discussing this point, they knew that some time had elapsed; and,
although the eyes they dreaded might still be distant, they could not
help thinking, that they were near enough to see them if only the hair
of their heads should be shown above the sand.

They reflected naturally. They knew that these sons of the desert must
be gifted with keen instincts; or, at all events, with an experience
that would enable them to detect the slightest "fault" in the aspect of
a landscape, so well known to them,--in short, that they would notice
anything that might appear "abnormal" in it.

From that time their situation was one of doubt and anxiety. They dared
not give even as much as a glance over the smooth, snow white sand. They
could only crouch behind it, in anxious expectation, knowing not when
that dubious condition of things could be safely brought to a close.

Luckily they were relieved from it, and sooner than they had expected.
Colin it was who discovered a way to get out of the difficulty.

"Ha!" exclaimed he, as an ingenious conception sprang up in his mind.
"I've got an idea that'll do. I'll watch these fellows, without giving
them a chance of seeing me. That will I."

"How?" asked the others.

Colin made no verbal reply; but instead, he was seen to insert his
telescope into the sand-parapet, in such a way that its tube passed
clear through to the other side, and of course commanded a view of the
beach, along which the two forms were advancing.

As soon as he had done so, he placed his eye to the glass, and, in a
cautious whisper, announced that both the horseman and camel-rider were
within his "field of view."



CHAPTER XVII.

THE TRAIL ON THE SAND.


The tube of the telescope, firmly imbedded in the sand, kept its place
without the necessity of being held in hand. It only required to be
slightly shifted as the horseman and camel-rider changed place,--so as
to keep them within its field of view.

By this means our adventurers were able to mark their approach and note
every movement they made, without much risk of being seen themselves.
Each of them took a peep through the glass to satisfy their curiosity,
and then the instrument was wholly intrusted to its owner, who was
thenceforth constantly to keep his eye to it, and observe the movements
of the strangers. This the young Scotchman did, at intervals
communicating with his companions in a low voice.

"I can make out their faces," muttered he, after a time; "and ugly
enough are they. One is yellow, the other black. He must be a negro,--of
course he is,--he's got woolly hair too. It's he that rides the
camel,--just such another as this that stumbled over us. The yellow man
upon the horse has a pointed beard upon his chin. He has a sharp look,
like those Moors we've seen at Tetuan. He's an Arab, I suppose. He
appears to be the master of the black man. I can see him make gestures,
as if he was directing him to do something. There! they have
stopped,--they are looking this way!"

"Marcy on us!" muttered old Bill, "if they have speered the glass!"

"Troth! that's like enough," said Terence. "It'll be flashing in the sun
outside the sand. That sharp-eyed Arab is almost sure to see it."

"Had you not better draw it in?" suggested Harry Blount.

"True," answered Colin. "But I fear it would be too late now. If that's
what halted them, it's all over with us, so far as hiding goes."

"Slip it in, any how. If they don't see it any more, they mayn't come
quite up to the ridge."

Colin was about to follow the advice thus offered, when on taking what
he intended to be a last squint through the telescope, he perceived that
the travellers were moving on up the beach, as if they had seen nothing
that called upon them to deviate from their course.

Fortunately for the four "stowaways," it was not the sparkle of the lens
that had caused them to make that stop. A ravine, or opening through the
sand-ridges, much larger than that in which our adventurers were
concealed, _emboucheed_ upon the beach, some distance below. It was the
appearance of this opening that had attracted the attention of the two
mounted men; and from their gestures Colin could tell they were talking
about it, as if undecided whether to go that way or keep on up the
strand.

It ended by the yellow man putting spurs to his horse, and galloping off
up the ravine, followed by the black man on the camel.

From the way in which both behaved,--keeping their eyes generally bent
upon the ground, but at intervals gazing about over the country,--it was
evident they were in search of something, and this would be the
she-camel that lay tethered in the bottom of the sand-gorge, close to
the spot occupied by our adventurers.

"They've gone off on the wrong track," said Colin, taking his eye from
the glass as soon as the switch tail of the maherry disappeared behind
the slope of a sand-dune. "So much the better for us. My heart was at my
mouth just a minute ago. I was sure it was all over with us."

"You think they haven't seen the shine of the lens?" interrogated Harry.

"Of course not; or else they'd have come on to examine it. Instead,
they've left the beach altogether. They've gone inland, among the hills.
They're no longer in sight."

"Good!" ejaculated Terence, raising his head over the ridge, as did also
the others.

"Och! good yez may well say, Masther Terence. Jist look fwhot fools
we've been all four av us! We never thought av the thracks, nayther wan
nor other av us!"

As Bill spoke, he pointed down towards the beach, in the direction in
which he had made his late crawling excursion. There, distinctly
traceable in the half-wet sand, were the marks he had made both going
and returning, as if a huge tortoise or crocodile had been dragging
itself over the ground.

The truth of his words was apparent to all. It was chance and not their
cunning that had saved them from discovery. Had the owner of the camel
but continued another hundred yards along the beach, he could not have
failed to see the double "trail" made by the sailor, and of course would
have followed it to the spot where they were hidden. As it was, the two
mounted men had not come near enough to note the sign made by the old
salt in his laborious flounderings; and perhaps fancying they had
followed the strand far enough, they had struck off into the
interior,--through the opening of the sand-hills, in the belief that the
she-camel might have done the same.

Whatever may have been their reason, they were now gone out of sight,
and the long stretch of desert shore was once more under the eyes of our
adventurers, unrelieved by the appearance of anything that might be
called a living creature.



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE "DESERT SHIP."


Though there was now nothing within sight between them, they did not
think it prudent to move out of the gorge, nor even to raise their heads
above the level of the sand-wreath. They did so only at intervals, to
assure themselves that the "coast was clear"; and satisfied on this
score, they would lower their heads again, and remain in this attitude
of concealment.

One with but slight knowledge of the circumstances--or with the country
in which they were--might consider them over-cautious in acting thus,
and might fancy that in their forlorn, shipwrecked condition they should
have been but too glad to meet men.

On the contrary, a creature of their own shape was the last thing they
desired either to see or encounter; and for the reasons already given in
their conversation, they could meet no men there who would not be their
enemies,--worse than that, their tyrants, perhaps their torturers. Old
Bill was sure of this from what he had heard. So were Colin and Harry
from what they had read. Terence alone was incredulous as to the cruelty
of which the sailor had given such a graphic picture.

Terence, however rash he was by nature, allowed himself to be overruled
by his more prudent companions; and therefore, up to the hour when the
twilight began to em-purple the sea, no movement towards stirring from
their place of concealment was made by any of the party.

The patient camel shared their silent retreat; though they had taken
precautions against its straying from them, had it felt so inclined, by
tying its shanks securely together. Towards evening the animal was again
milked, in the same fashion as in the morning; and, reinvigorated by its
bountiful yield, our adventurers prepared to depart from a spot, of
which, notwithstanding the friendly concealment it had afforded them,
they were all heartily tired.

Their preparations were easily made, and occupied scarce ten seconds of
time. It was only to untether the camel and take to the road, or, as
Harry jocosely termed it, "unmoor the desert ship and begin their
voyage."

Just as the last gleam of daylight forsook the white crests of the
sand-hills, and went flickering afar over the blue waters of the ocean,
they stole forth from their hiding-place, and started upon a journey of
which they knew neither the length nor the ending.

Even of the direction of that undetermined journey they had but a vague
conception. They believed that the coast trended northward and
southward, and that one of these points was the proper one to head for.
It was almost "heads or tails" which of them they should take; and had
they been better acquainted with their true situation, it might as well
have been determined by a toss-up, for any chance they had of ever
arriving at a civilized settlement. But they knew not that. They had a
belief--the old sailor stronger than the rest--that there were
Portuguese forts along the coast, chiefly to the southward, and that by
keeping along shore they might reach one of these. There were such
establishments it is true--still are; and though at that time there were
some nearer to the point where their ship had been wrecked, none were
near enough to be reached by the starving castaway, however
perseveringly he might travel towards them.

Ignorant of the impracticability of their attempt, our adventurers
entered upon it with a spirit worthy of success,--worthy of the country
from which they had come.

For some time the maherry was led in hand, old Bill being its conductor.
All four had been well rested during the day, and none of them cared to
ride.

As the tide, however, was now beginning to creep up into the sundry
inlets, to avoid walking in water, they were compelled to keep well high
up on the beach; and this forced them to make their way through the soft
yielding sand, a course that required considerable exertion.

Ore after another now began to feel fatigue, and talk about it as well;
and then the proposal was made, that the maherry--who stepped over the
unsure surface with as much apparent lightness as a cat would have
done--should be made to carry at least one of the party. They could ride
in turns, which would give each of them an opportunity of resting.

No sooner was the proposition made than it was carried into execution.
Terence, who had been the one to advance it, being hoisted in the hump
of the camel.

But though the young O'Connor had been accustomed to the saddle from
childhood, and had ridden "across country" on many an occasion, it was
not long before he became satisfied with the saddle of a maherry. The
rocking, and jolting, and "pitching," as our adventurers termed it, from
larboard to starboard, fore and aft, and alow and aloft, soon caused
Terence to sing out "enough"; and he descended into the soft sand with a
much greater desire for walking than the moment before he had had for
riding.

Harry Blount took his place, but although the young Englishman had been
equally accustomed to a hunting-saddle, he found that his experience
went but a little way towards making him easy on the hump of a maherry;
and he was soon in the mood for dismounting.

The son of Scotia next climbed upon the back of the camel. Whether it
was that natural pride of prowess which oft impels his countrymen to
perseverance and daring deeds,--whether it was that, or whether it arose
from a sterner power of endurance,--certain it is that Colin kept his
seat longer than either of his predecessors.

But even Scotch sinews could not hold out against such a tension,--such
a bursting and wrenching and tossing,--and it ended by Colin declaring
that upon the whole he would prefer making the journey upon "Shank's
mare."

Saying this he slid down from the shoulders of the ungainly animal,
resigning the creature once more to the conduct of Old Bill, who had
still kept hold of the halter.



CHAPTER XIX.

HOMEWARD BOUND.


The experience of his young companions might have deterred the sailor
from imitating their example; more especially as Bill, according to his
own statement, had never been "abroad" a saddle in his life. But they
did not; and for special reasons. Awkward as the old salt might feel in
a saddle, he felt not less awkward _afoot_. That is ashore,--on _terra
firma_.

Place him on the deck of a ship, or in the rigging of one, and no man in
all England's navy could have been more secure as to his footing, or
more difficult to dispossess of it; but set sailor Bill upon shore, and
expect him to go ahead upon it, you would be disappointed: you might as
well expect a fish to make progress on land; and you would witness a
species of locomotion more resembling that of a manatee or a seal, than
of a human biped. As the old man-o'-war's-man had now being floundering
full five weeks through the soft shore-sand, he was thoroughly convinced
that a mode of progression must be preferable to that; and as soon as
the young Scotchman descended from his seat, he climbed into it.

He had not much climbing to do,--for the well-trained maherry, when any
one wished to mount him, at once knelt down,--making the ascent to his
"summits" as easy as possible.

Just as the sailor had got firmly into the saddle, the moon shone out
with a brilliance that almost rivalled the light of day. In the midst of
that desert landscape, against the ground of snow-white sand, the
figures of both camel and rider were piquantly conspicuous; and although
the one was figuratively a ship, and the other really a sailor, their
juxtaposition offered a contrast of the queerest kind. So ludicrous did
it seem, that the three "mids," disregarding all ideas of danger, broke
forth with one accord into a strain of loud and continuous laughter.

They had all seen camels, or pictures of these animals; but never before
either a camel, or the picture of one, _with a sailor upon his back_.
The very idea of a dromedary carries along with it the cognate spectacle
of an Arab on its back,--a slim, sinewy individual of swarth complexion
and picturesque garb, a bright burnouse steaming around his body, with a
twisted turban on his head. But a tall camel surmounted by a sailor in
dreadnought jacket and sou'-wester, was a picture to make a Solon laugh,
let alone a tier of midshipmen; and it drew from the latter such a
cachinnation as caused the shores of the Saära to echo with sounds of
joy, perhaps never heard there before. Old Bill was not angry, he was
only gratified to see these young gentlemen in such good spirits; and
calling upon them to keep close after him, he gave the halter to his
maherry and started off over the sand.

For some time his companions kept pace with him, doing their best; but
it soon became apparent, even to the sailor himself, that unless
something was done to restrain the impetuosity of the camel, he must
soon be separated from those following afoot.

This something its rider felt himself incapable of accomplishing. It is
true he still held the halter in his hand, but this gave him but slight
control over the camel. It was not a mameluke bitt--not even a
snaffle--and for directing the movements of the animal the old sailor
felt himself as helpless as if standing by the wheel of a seventy-four
that had unshipped her rudder. Just like a ship in such a situation did
the maherry behave. Surging through the ocean of soft sand, now mounting
the spurs that trended down to the beach, now descending headlong into
deep gullies, like troughs between the ocean waves, and gliding
silently, gently forward as a shallop upon a smooth sea. Such was the
course that the sailor was pursuing. Very different, however, were his
reflections to those he would have indulged in on board a man-o'-war;
and if any man ever sneered at that simile which likens a camel to a
ship, it was Sailor Bill upon that occasion.

"Avast there!" cried he, as soon as the maherry had fairly commenced
moving. "Shiver my old timbers! what do yez mean, you brute? Belay
there! belay! 'Ang it, I must pipe all 'ands, an' take in sail. Where
the deevil are ye steerin' to? Be jabers, yez may laugh, young
gentlemen, but this ain't a fair weather craft, I tell yez. Thunder an'
ouns! it be as much as I can do to keep her to her course. Hulloo! she's
off afore the wind!"

As the rider of the maherry gave out this declaration, the animal was
seen suddenly to increase its speed, not only in a progressive ratio,
but at once to double quick, as if impelled by some powerful motive.

At the same time it was heard to utter a strange cry, half scream, half
snort, which could not have been caused by any action on the part of its
rider.

It was already over a hundred yards in advance of those following on
foot; but after giving out that startling cry, the distance became
quickly increased, and in a few seconds of time the three astonished
"mids" saw only the shadow of a maherry, with a sailor upon its back,
first dissolving into dim outline until it finally disappeared behind
the sand dunes that abutted upon the beach.



CHAPTER XX.

THE DANCE INTERRUPTED.


Leaving the midshipmen to their mirth, which, however, was not of very
long duration, we must follow Sailor Bill and the runaway camel.

In reality the maherry had made off with him, though for what reason the
sailor could not divine. He only knew that it was going at the rate of
nine or ten knots an hour, and going its own way; for instead of keeping
to the line of the coast,--the direction he would have wished it to
take,--it had suddenly turned tail upon the sea, and headed towards the
interior of the country.

Its rider had already discovered that he had not the slightest control
over it. He had tugged upon the hair halter and shouted "Avast!" until
both his arms and tongue were tired. All to no purpose. The camel
scorned his commands, lent a deaf ear to his entreaties, and paid not
the slightest heed to his attempt to pull up, except to push on in the
opposite direction, with its snout elevated in the air and its long
ungainly neck stretched forward in the most determined and provoking
fashion.

There was not much force in the muscular efforts made to check it. It
was just as much as its rider could do to balance himself on its hump,
which, of course, he had to do Arab-fashion, sitting _upon_ the saddle
as on a chair, with his feet resting upon the back of the animal's neck.
It was this position that rendered his seat so insecure, but no other
could have been adopted in the saddle of a maherry, and the sailor was
compelled to keep it as well as he could.

At the time the animal first started off, it had not gone at so rapid a
pace but that he might have slipped down upon the soft sand without much
danger of being injured. This for an instant he had thought of doing;
but knowing that while "unhorsing" himself the camel might escape, he
had voluntarily remained on its back, in the hope of being able to pull
the animal up.

On becoming persuaded that this would be impossible, and that the
maherry had actually made off with him, it was too late to dismount
without danger. The camel was now shambling along so swiftly that he
could not slip down without submitting himself to a fall. It would be no
longer a tumble upon soft sand, for the runaway had suddenly swerved
into a deep gorge, the bottom of which was thickly strewed with boulders
of rock, and through these the maherry was making way with the speed of
a fast-trotting horse.

Had its rider attempted to abandon his high perch upon the hump, his
chances would have been good for getting dashed against one of the big
boulders, or trodden under the huge hoofs of the maherry itself.

Fully alive to this danger, Old Bill no more thought of throwing himself
to the ground; but on the contrary, held on to the hump with all the
tenacity that lay in his well-tarred digits.

He had continued to shout for some time after parting with his
companions; but as this availed nothing, he at length desisted, and was
now riding the rest of his race in silence.

When was it to terminate? Whither was the camel conducting him? These
were the questions that now came before his mind.

He thought of an answer, and it filled him with apprehension. The animal
was evidently in eager haste. It was snuffing the wind in its progress
forward; something ahead seemed to be attracting it. What could this
something be but its home, the tent from which it had strayed, the
dwelling of its owner? And who could that owner be but one of those
cruel denizens of the desert they had been taking such pains to avoid?

The sailor was allowed but little time for conjectures; for almost on
the instant of his shaping this, the very first one, the maherry shot
suddenly round the hip of a hill, bringing him in full view of a
spectacle that realized it.

A small valley, or stretch of level ground enclosed by surrounding
ridges, lay before him; its gray, sandy surface interspersed by a few
patches of darker color, which the moon, shining brightly from a blue
sky, disclosed to be tufts of tussock-grass and mimosa bushes.

These, however, did not occupy the attention of the involuntary visitor
to that secluded spot; but something else that appeared in their
midst,--something that proclaimed the presence of human beings.

Near the centre of the little valley half a dozen dark objects stood up
several feet above the level of the ground. Their size, shape, and color
proclaimed their character. They were tents,--the tents of a Bedouin
encampment. The old man-o'-war's-man had never seen such before; but
there was no mistaking them for anything else,--even going as he was at
a speed that prevented him from having a very clear view of them.

In a few seconds, however, he was near enough to distinguish something
more than the tents. They stood in a sort of circle of about twenty
yards in diameter, and within this could be seen the forms of men,
women, and children. Around were animals of different sorts,--horses,
camels, sheep, goats, and dogs, grouped according to their kind, with
the exception of the dogs, which appeared to be straying everywhere.
This varied tableau was distinctly visible under the light of a full,
mellow moon.

There were voices,--shouting and singing. There was music, made upon
some rude instrument. The human forms,--both of men and women,--were in
motion, circling and springing about. The sailor saw they were dancing.

He heard, and saw, all this in a score of seconds, as the maherry
hurried him forward into their midst. The encampment was close to the
bottom of the hill round which the camel had carried him. He had at
length made up his mind to dismount _coute que coute_; but there was no
time. Before he could make a movement to fling himself from the
shoulders of the animal, he saw that he was discovered. A cry coming
from the tents admonished him of this fact. It was too late to attempt a
retreat, and, in a state of desponding stupor, he stuck to the saddle.
Not much longer. The camel, with a snorting scream, responding to the
call of its fellows, rushed on into the encampment,--right into the very
circle of the dancers; and there amidst the shouts of men, the screeches
of women, the yelling of children, the neighing of horses, the bleating
of sheep and goats, and the barking of a score or two of cur dogs,--the
animal stopped, with such abrupt suddenness that its rider, after
performing a somersault through the air, came down on all-fours, in
front of its projecting snout!

In such fashion was Sailor Bill introduced to the Arab encampment.



CHAPTER XXI.

A SERIO-COMICAL RECEPTION.


It need scarce be said that the advent of the stranger produced some
surprise among the Terpsichorean crowd, into the midst of which he had
been so unceremoniously projected. And yet this surprise was not such as
might have been expected. One might suppose that an English
man-o'-war's-man in pilot-cloth, pea-jacket, glazed hat, and wide duck
trousers, would have been a singular sight to the eyes of the
dark-skinned individuals who now encircled them--dressed as all of them
were in gay colored floating shawl-robes, slipped or sandalled feet, and
with fez caps or turbans on their heads.

Not a bit of a singular sight: neither the color of his skin, nor his
sailor-costume, had caused surprise to those who surrounded him. Both
were matters with which they were well acquainted--alas! too well.

The astonishment they had exhibited arose simply from the _sans façons_
manner of his coming amongst them; and on the instant after it
disappeared, giving place to a feeling of a different kind.

Succeeding to the shouts of surprise, arose a simultaneous peal of
laughter from men, women, and children; in which even the animals seemed
to join--more especially the maherry, who stood with its uncouth head
craned over its dismounted rider, and looking uncontrollably comic!

In the midst of this universal exclamation the sailor rose to his feet.
He might have been disconcerted by the reception, had his senses been
clear enough to comprehend what was passing. But they were not. The
effects of that fearful somersault had confused him; and he had only
risen to an erect attitude, under a vague instinct or desire to escape
from that company.

After staggering some paces over the ground, his thoughts returned to
him; and he more clearly comprehended his situation. Escape was out of
the question. He was prisoner to a party of wandering Bedouins,--the
worst to be found in all the wide expanse of the Saäran desert,--the
wreckers of the Atlantic coast.

The sailor might have felt surprised at seeing a collection of familiar
objects into the midst of which he had wandered. By the doorway of a
tent,--one of the largest upon the ground,--there was a pile of
_paraphernalia_, every article of which was tropical, not of the Saära,
but the sea. There were "belongings" of the cabin and caboose,--the
'tween decks, and the forecastle,--all equally proclaiming themselves
the _débris_ of a castaway ship.

The sailor could have no conjectures as to the vessel to which they had
belonged. He knew the articles by sight,--one and all of them. They were
the spoils of the corvette, that had been washed ashore, and fallen into
the hands of the wreckers.

Among them Old Bill saw some things that had appertained to himself.

On the opposite side of the encampment, by another large tent, was a
second pile of ship's equipments, like the first, guarded by a sentinel
who squatted beside it: the sailor looked around in expectation to see
some of the corvette's crew. Some might have escaped like himself and
his three companions by reaching the shore on cask, hoop, or spar. If
so, they had not fallen into the hands of the wreckers; or if they had,
they were not in the camp--unless, indeed, they might be inside some of
the tents. This was not likely. Most probably they had all been drowned,
or had succumbed to a worse fate than drowning--death at the hands of
the cruel coast robbers, who now surrounded the survivor.

The circumstances under which the old sailor made these reflections were
such as to render the last hypothesis sufficiently probable. He was
being pushed about and dragged over the ground by two men, armed with
long curved scimitars, contesting some point with one another,
apparently as to which should be first to cut off his head!

Both of these men appeared to be chiefs; "sheiks" as the sailor heard
them called by their followers, a party of whom--also with arms in their
hands--stood behind each "sheik"--all seemingly alike eager to perform
the act of decapitation.

So near seemed the old sailor's head to being cut off, that for some
seconds he was not quite sure whether it still remained upon his
shoulders! He could not understand a word that passed between the
contending parties, though there was talk enough to have satisfied a
sitting of parliament, and probably with about the same quantity of
sense in it.

Before he had proceeded far, the sailor began to comprehend,--not from
the speeches made, but the gestures that accompanied them,--that it was
not the design of either party to cut off his head. The drawn scimitars,
sweeping through the air, were not aimed at his neck, but rather in
mutual menace of one another.

Old Bill could see that there was some quarrel between the two sheiks,
of which he was himself the cause; that the camp was not a unity
consisting of a single chief, his family, and following; but that there
were too separate leaders, each with his adherents, perhaps temporarily
associated together for purposes of plunder.

That they had collected the wreck of the corvette, and divided the
spoils between them, was evident from the two heaps being kept carefully
apart, each piled up near the tent of a chief.

The old man-o'-war's-man made his observations in the midst of great
difficulties: for while noting these particulars, he was pulled about
the place, first by one sheik, then by the other, each retaining his
disputed person in temporary possession.

From the manner in which they acted, he could tell that it was his
person that was the subject of dispute, and that both wanted to be the
proprietor of it.



CHAPTER XXII.

THE TWO SHEIKS.


There was a remarkable difference between the two men thus claiming
ownership in the body of Old Bill. One was a little wizen-faced
individual, whose yellow complexion and sharp, angular features
proclaimed him of the Arab stock, while his competitor showed a skin of
almost ebon blackness--a frame of herculean development--a broad face,
with flat nose and thick lubberly lips--a head of enormous
circumference, surmounted by a mop of woolly hair, standing erect
several inches above his occiput.

Had the sailor been addicted to ethnological speculations, he might have
derived an interesting lesson from that contest, of which he was the
cause. It might have helped him to a knowledge of the geography of the
country in which he had been cast, for he was now upon that neutral
territory where the true Ethiopian--the son of Ham--occasionally
contests possession, both of the soil and the slave, with the wandering
children of Japhet.

The two men who were thus quarrelling about the possession of the
English tar, though both of African origin, could scarce have been more
unlike had their native country been the antipodes of each other.

Their object was not so different, though even in this there was a
certain dissimilation. Both designed making the shipwrecked sailor a
slave. But the sheik of Arab aspects wished to possess him, with a view
to his ultimate ransom. He knew that by carrying him northwards there
would be a chance to dispose of him at a good price, either to the Jew
merchants at Wedinoin, or the European consuls at Mogador. It would not
be the first Saärian castaway he had in this manner restored to his
friends and his country--not from any motives of humanity, but simply
for the profit it produced.

On the other hand, the black competitor had a different, though somewhat
similar, purpose in view. His thoughts extended towards the south. There
lay the emporium of his commerce,--the great mud-built town of
Timbuctoo. Little as a white man was esteemed among the Arab merchants
when considered as a _mere_ slave, the sable sheik knew that in the
south of the Saära he would command a price, if only as a curiosity to
figure among the followers of the sultan of some grand interior city.
For this reason, therefore, was the black determined upon the possession
of Bill, and showed as much eagerness to become his owner as did his
tawny competitor.

After several minutes spent in words and gestures of mutual menace,
which, from the wild shouts and flourishing of scimitars, seemed as if
it could only end in a general lopping off of heads, somewhat to the
astonishment of the sailor, tranquillity became restored without any one
receiving scratch or cut.

The scimitars were returned to their scabbards; and although the affair
did not appear to be decided, the contest was now carried on in a more
pacific fashion by words. A long argument ensued, in which both sheiks
displayed their oratorial powers. Though the sailor could not understand
a word of what was said, he could tell that the little Arab was urging
his ownership, on the plea that the camel which had carried the captive
into the encampment was his property, and on this account was he
entitled to the "waif."

The black seemed altogether to dissent from this doctrine; on his side
pointing to the two heaps of plunder; as much as to say that his share
of the spoils--already obtained--was the smaller one.

At this crisis a third party stepped between the two disputants--a young
fellow, who appeared to have some authority with both. His behavior told
Bill that he was acting as mediator. Whatever was the proposal made by
him, it appeared to satisfy both parties, as both at once desisted from
their wordy warfare--at the same time that they seemed preparing to
settle the dispute in some other way.

The mode was soon made apparent. A spot of smooth, even sand was
selected by the side of the encampment, to which the two sheiks,
followed by their respective parties, repaired.

A square figure was traced out, inside of which several rows of little
round holes were scooped in the sand, and then the rival sheiks sat
down, one on each side of the figure. Each had already provided himself
with a number of pellets of camels' dung, which were now placed in the
holes, and the play of "helga" was now commenced.

Whoever won the game was to become possessed of the single stake, which
was neither more nor less than Sailor Bill.

The game proceeded by the shifting of the dung pellets in a particular
fashion, from hole to hole, somewhat similar to the moving of draughts
upon the squares of a checker-board.

During the play not a word was spoken by either party, the two sheiks
squatting opposite each other, and making their moves with as much
gravity as a pair of chess-players engaged in some grand tournament of
this intellectual game.

It was only when the affair ended, that the noise broke forth again,
which it did in loud, triumphant shouts from the conquering party, with
expressions of chagrin on the side of the conquered.

By interpreting these shouts, Bill could tell that he had fallen to the
black; and this was soon after placed beyond doubt by the latter coming
up and taking possession of him.

It appeared, however, that there had been certain subsiding conditions
to the play, and that the sailor had been in some way or another _staked
against his own clothes_; for before being fully appropriated by his
owner he was stripped to his shirt, and his habiliments, shoes and
sou'-wester included, were handed over to the sheik who had played
second-best in the game of "helga."

In this forlorn condition was the old sailor conducted to the tent of
his sable master, and placed like an additional piece upon the pile of
plunder already apportioned!



CHAPTER XXIII.

SAILOR BILL BESHREWED.


Sailor Bill said not a word. He had no voice in the disposal of the
stakes,--which were himself and his "toggery,"--and, knowing this, he
remained silent.

He was not allowed to remain undisturbed. During the progress of the
game, he had become the cynosure of a large circle of eyes,--belonging
to the women and children of the united tribes.

He might have looked for some compassion,--at least, from the female
portion of those who formed his _entourage_. Half famished with
hunger,--a fact which he did not fail to communicate by signs,--he might
have expected them to relieve his wants. The circumstance of his making
them known might argue, that he did expect some sort of kind treatment.

It was not much, however. His hopes were but slight, and sprang rather
from a knowledge of his own necessities, and of what the women _ought_
to have done, than what they were likely to do. Old Bill had heard too
much of the character of these hags of the Saära,--and their mode of
conducting themselves towards any unfortunate castaway who might be
drifted among them,--to expect any great hospitality at their hands.

His hopes, therefore, were moderate; but, for all that, they were doomed
to disappointment.

Perhaps in no other part of the world is the "milk of human kindness" so
completely wanting in the female breast, as among the women of the
wandering Arabs of Africa. Slaves to their imperious lords,--even when
enjoying the sacred title of wife,--they are themselves treated worse
than the animals which they have to manage and tend,--even worse at
times than their own bond-slaves, with whom they mingle almost on an
equality. As in all like cases, this harsh usage, instead of producing
sympathy for others who suffer, has the very opposite tendency; as if
they found some alleviation of their cruel lot in imitating the
brutality of their oppressors.

Instead of receiving kindness, the old sailor became the recipient of
insults, not only from their tongues,--which he could not
understand,--but by acts and gestures which were perfectly
comprehensible to him.

While his ears were dinned by virulent speeches,--which, could he have
comprehended them, would have told him how much he was despised for
being an infidel, and not a follower of the true prophet,--while his
eyes were well-nigh put out by dust thrown in his face,--accompanied by
spiteful expectorations,--his body was belabored by sticks, his skin
scratched and pricked with sharp thorns, his whiskers lugged almost to
the dislocation of his jaws, and the hair of his head uprooted in
fistfuls from his pericranium.

All this, too, amid screams and fiendish laughter, that resembled an
orgie of furies.

These women--she-devils they better deserved to be called--were simply
following out the teachings of their inhuman faith,--among religions,
even that of Rome not excepted, the most inhuman that has ever cursed
mankind. Had old Bill been a believer in their "Prophet," that false
seer of the blood-stained sword, their treatment of him would have been
directly the reverse. Instead of kicks and cuffs, hustlings and
scratchings, he would have been made welcome to a share in such
hospitality as they could have bestowed upon him. It was religion, not
nature, made them act as they did. Their hardness of heart came not from
_God_, but the _Prophet_. They were only carrying out the edicts of
their "priests of a bloody faith."

In vain did the old man-o'-war's-man cry out "belay" and "avast." In
vain did he "shiver his timbers," and appeal against their scurvy
treatment, by looks, words, and gesture.

These seemed only to augment the mirth and spitefulness of his
tormentors.

In this scene of cruelty there was one woman conspicuous among the rest.
By her companions she was called _Fatima_. The old sailor, ignorant of
Arabic feminine names, thought "it a misnomer," for of all his
she-persecutors she was the leanest and scraggiest. Notwithstanding the
poetical notions which the readers of Oriental romance might associate
with her name, there was not much poetry about the personage who so
assiduously assaulted Sailor Bill,--pulling his whiskers, slapping his
cheeks, and every now and then spitting in his face!

She was something more than middle-aged, short, squat, and meagre; with
the eye-teeth projecting on both sides, so as to hold up the upper lip,
and exhibit all the others in their ivory whiteness, with an expression
resembling that of the hyena. This is considered beauty,--a fashion in
full vogue among her countrywomen, who cultivate it with great
care,--though to the eyes of the old sailor it rendered the hag all the
more hideous.

But the skinning of eye-teeth was not the only attempt at ornament made
by this belle of the Desert. Strings of black beads hung over her
wrinkled bosom; circlets of white bone were set in her hair; armlets and
bangles adorned her wrists and ankles, and altogether did her costume
and behavior betoken one distinguished among the crowd of his
persecutors,--in short, their sultana or queen.

And such did she prove; for on the black sheik appropriating the old
sailor as a stake fairly won in the game, and rescuing his
newly-acquired property from the danger of being damaged, Fatima
followed him to his tent with such demonstrations as showed her to be,
if not the "favorite," certainly the head of the harem.



CHAPTER XXIV.

STARTING ON THE TRACK.


As already said, the mirth of the three midshipmen was brought to a
quick termination. It ended on the instant of Sailor Bill's
disappearance behind the spur of the sand-hills. At the same instant all
three came to a stop, and stood regarding one another with looks of
uneasiness and apprehension.

All agreed that the maherry had made away with the old man-o'-war's-man.
There could be no doubt about it. Bill's shouts, as he was hurried out
of their hearing, proved that he was doing his best to bring to, and
that the "ship of the desert" would not yield obedience to her helm.

They wondered a little why he had not slipped off, and let the animal
go. They could not see why he should fear to drop down in the soft sand.
He might have had a tumble, but nothing to do him any serious
injury,--nothing to break a bone, or dislocate a joint. They supposed he
had stuck to the saddle, from not wishing to abandon the maherry, and in
hope of soon bringing it to a halt.

This was just what he had done, for the first three or four hundred
yards. After that he would only have been too well satisfied to separate
from the camel, and let it go its way. But then he was among the rough,
jaggy rocks through which the path led, and then dismounting was no
longer to be thought of, without also thinking of danger, considering
that the camel was nearly ten feet in height, and going at a pitching
pace of ten miles to the hour. To have forsaken his saddle at that
moment would have been to risk the breaking of his neck.

From where they stood looking after him, the mids could not make out the
character of the ground. Under the light of the moon, the surface seemed
all of a piece,--all a bed of smooth soft sand! For this reason were
they perplexed by his behavior.

There was that in the incident to make them apprehensive. The maherry
would not have gone off at such a gait, without some powerful motive to
impel it. Up to that moment it had shown no particular _penchant_ for
rapid travelling, but had been going, under their guidance, with a
steady, sober docility. Something must have attracted it towards the
interior. What could that something be, if not the knowledge that its
home, or its companions, were to be found in this direction?

This was the conjecture that came simultaneously into the minds of all
three,--as is known, the correct one.

There could be no doubt that their companion had been carried towards an
encampment; for no other kind of settlement could be thought of in such
a place. It was even a wonder that this could exist in the midst of a
dreary, wild expanse of pure sand, like that surrounding them. Perhaps,
thought they, there may be "land" towards the interior of the
country,--a spot of firm soil, with vegetation upon it; in short, an
_oasis_.

After their first surprise had partially subsided, they took counsel as
to their course. Should they stay where they were, and wait for Bill's
return? Or should they follow, in the hope of overtaking him?

Perhaps he might _not_ return. If carried into a camp of barbarous
savages, it was not likely that he would. He would be seized and held
captive to a dead certainty. But surely he would not be such a
simpleton, as to allow the maherry to transport him into the midst of
his enemies.

Again sprang up their surprise at his not having made an effort to
dismount.

For some ten or fifteen minutes the midshipmen stood hesitating,--their
eyes all the while bent on the moonlit opening, through which the
maherry had disappeared. There were no signs of anything in the
pass,--at least anything like either a camel or a sailor. Only the
bright beams of the moon glittering upon crystals of purest sand.

They thought they heard sounds,--the cries of quadrupeds mingling with
the voices of men. There were voices, too, of shriller intonation, that
might have proceeded from the throats of women.

Colin was confident he heard such. He was not contradicted by his
companions, who simply said, they could not be sure that they heard
anything.

But for the constant roar of the breakers,--rolling up almost to the
spot upon which they stood,--they would have declared themselves
differently; for at that moment there was a chorus being carried on at
no great distance, in a variety of most unmusical sounds,--comprising
the bark of the dog, the neigh of the horse, the snorting scream of the
dromedary, the bleat of the sheep, and the sharper cry of its near
kindred the goat,--along with the equally wild and scarce more
articulate utterances of savage men, women, and children.

Colin was convinced that he heard all these sounds, and declared that
they could only proceed from some encampment. His companions, knowing
that the young Scotchman was sharp-eared, made no attempt to question
his belief; but, on the contrary, gave ready credence to it.

Under any circumstances it seemed of no use to remain where they were.
If Bill did not return, they were bound in honor to go after him; and,
if possible, find out what had become of him. If, on the other hand, he
should be coming back, they must meet him somewhere in the
pass,--through which the camel had carried him off--since there was no
other by which he might conveniently get back to them.

This point determined, the three mids, setting their faces for the
interior of the country, started off towards the break between the
sand-hills.



CHAPTER XXV.

BILL TO BE ABANDONED.


They proceeded with caution,--Colin even more than his companions. The
young Englishman was not so distrustful of the "natives," whoever they
might be, as the son of Scotia; and as for O'Connor, he still persisted
in the belief that there would be little, if any, danger in meeting with
men, and, in his arguments, still continued to urge seeking such an
encounter as the best course they could pursue.

"Besides," said Terence, "Coly says he hears the voices of women and
children. Sure no human creature that's got a woman and child in his
company would be such a cruel brute as you make out this desert
Ethiopian to be? Sailors' stories, to gratify the melodramatic ears of
Moll and Poll and Sue! Bah! if there be an encampment, let's go straight
into it, and demand hospitality of them. Sure they must be Arabs; and
sure you've heard enough of Arab hospitality?"

"More than's true, Terry," rejoined the young Englishman. "More than's
true, I fear."

"You may well say that," said Colin, confirmingly. "From what I've heard
and read,--ay, and from something I've seen while up the
Mediterranean,--a more beggarly hospitality than that called Arab don't
exist on the face of the earth. It's all well enough, so long as you are
one of themselves, and, like them, a believer in their pretended
prophet. Beyond that, an Arab has got no more hospitality than a hyena.
You're both fond of talking about skin-flint Scotchmen."

"True," interrupted Terence, who, even in that serious situation, could
not resist such a fine opportunity for displaying his Irish humor. "I
never think of a Scotchman without thinking of his skin. 'God bless the
gude Duke of Argyle!'"

"Shame, Terence!" interrupted Harry Blount; "our situation is too
serious for jesting."

"He--all of us--may find it so before long," continued Colin, preserving
his temper unruffled. "If that yelling crowd--that I can now hear
plainer than ever--should come upon us, we'll have something else to
think of than jokes about 'gude Duke o' Argyle.' Hush! Do you hear that?
Does it convince you that men and women are near? There are scores of
both kinds."

Colin had come to a stop, the others imitating his example. They were
now more distant from the breakers,--whose roar was somewhat deadened by
the intervention of a sand-spur. In consequence, the other sounds were
heard more distinctly. They could no longer be mistaken,--even by the
incredulous O'Connor.

There were voices of men, women, and children,--cries and calls of
quadrupeds,--each according to its own kind, all mingled together in
what might have been taken for some nocturnal saturnalia of the Desert.

The crisis was that in which Sailor Bill had become a subject of dispute
between the two sheiks,--in which not only their respective followers of
the biped kind appeared to take part, but also every quadruped in the
camp,--dogs and dromedaries, horses, goats, and sheep,--as if each had
an interest in the ownership of the old man-o'-war's-man.

The grotesque chorus was succeeded by an interval of silence,
uninterrupted and profound. This was while the two sheiks were playing
their game of "helga,"--the "chequers" of the Saära, with Sailor Bill as
their stake.

During this tranquil interlude, the three midshipmen had advanced
through the rock-strewn ravine, had crept cautiously inside the ridges
that encircled the camp, and concealed by the sparse bushes of mimosa,
and favored by the light of a full moon, had approached near enough to
take note of what was passing among the tents.

What they saw there, and then, was confirmatory of the theory of the
young Scotchman; and convinced not only Harry Blount, but Terence
O'Connor, that the stories of Arab hospitality were not only untrue, but
diametrically opposed to the truth.

There was old Bill before their faces, stripped to the shirt,--to the
"buff,"--surrounded by a circle of short, squat women, dark-skinned,
with black hair, and eyes sparkling in the moonlight, who were torturing
him with tongue and touch,--who pinched and spat upon him,--who looked
altogether like a band of infernal Furies collected around some innocent
victim that had fallen among them, and giving full play to their
fiendish instincts!

Although they were witnesses to the subsequent rescue of Bill by the
black sheik,--and the momentary release of the old sailor from his
tormentors,--it did not increase their confidence in the crew who
occupied the encampment.

From the way in which the old salt appeared to be treated, they could
tell that he was regarded by the hosts into whose hands he had fallen,
not as a guest, but simply as a "piece of goods,"--just like any other
waif of the wreck that had been washed on that inhospitable shore.

In whispers the three mids made known their thoughts to one another.
Harry Blount no longer doubted the truth of Colin's statements; and
O'Connor had become equally converted from his incredulity. The conduct
of the women towards the unfortunate castaway--which all three
witnessed--told like the tongue of a trumpet. It was cruel beyond
question. What, when exercised, must be that of their men?

To think of leaving their old comrade in such keeping was not a pleasant
reflection. It was like their abandoning him upon the sand-spit,--to the
threatening engulfment of the tide. Even worse: for the angry breakers
seemed less spiteful than the hags who surrounded him in the Arab camp.

Still, what could the boys do? Three midshipmen,--armed only with their
tiny dirks,--what chance would they have among so many? There were
scores of these sinewy sons of the Desert,--without counting the
shrewish women,--each armed with gun and scimitar, any one of whom ought
to have been more than a match for a "mid." It would have been sheer
folly to have attempted a rescue. Despair only could have sanctioned
such a course.

In a whispered consultation it was determined otherwise. The old sailor
must be abandoned to his fate, just as he had been left upon the
sand-spit. His youthful companions could only breathe a prayer in his
behalf, and express a hope that, as upon the latter occasion, some
providential chance should turn up in his favor, and he might again be
permitted to rejoin them.

After communicating this hope to one another, all three turned their
faces shoreward, determined to put as much space between themselves and
the Arab encampment as night and circumstances would permit.



CHAPTER XXVI.

A CAUTIOUS RETREAT.


The ravine, up which the maherry had carried the old man-o'-war's-man,
ran perpendicularly to the trending of the seashore, and almost in a
direct line from the beach to the valley, in which was the Arab
encampment. It could not, however, be said to debouch into this valley.
Across its mouth the sand-drift had formed a barrier, like a huge
"snow-wreath," uniting the two parallel ridges that formed the sides of
the ravine itself. This "mouth-piece" was not so high as either of the
flanking ridges; though it was nearly a hundred feet above the level of
the beach on one side, and the valley on the other. Its crest, viewed
_en profile_, exhibited a saddle-shaped curve, the concavity turned
upward.

Through the centre of this saddle of sand, and transversely, the camel
had carried Bill; and over the same track the three midshipmen had gone
in search of him.

They had seen the Arab tents from the summit of the "pass"; and had it
been daylight, need have gone no nearer to note what was being there
done. Even by the moonlight, they had been able to make out the forms of
the horses, camels, men, and women; but not with sufficient distinctness
to satisfy them as to what was going on.

For this reason had they descended into the valley,--creeping cautiously
down the slope of the sand-wreath, and with equal caution advancing from
boulder to bush, and bush to boulder.

On taking the back track to regain the beach, they still observed
caution,--though perhaps not to such a degree as when approaching the
camp. Their desire to put space between themselves and the barbarous
denizens of the Desert,--of whose barbarity they had now obtained both
ocular and auricular proof,--had very naturally deprived them of that
prudent coolness which the occasion required. For all that, they did not
retreat with reckless rashness; and all three arrived at the bottom of
the sloping sand-ridge, without having any reason to think they had been
observed.

But the most perilous point was yet to be passed. Against the face of
the acclivity, there was not much danger of their being seen. The moon
was shining on the other side. That which they had to ascend was in
shadow,--dark enough to obscure the outlines of their bodies to an eye
looking in that direction, from such a distance as the camp. It was not
while toiling up the slope that they dreaded detection, but at the
moment when they must cross the saddle-shaped summit of the pass. Then,
the moon being low down in the sky, directly in front of their faces,
while the camp, still lower, was right behind their backs, it was not
difficult to tell that their bodies would be exactly aligned between the
luminary of night and the sparkling eyes of the Arabs, and that their
figures would be exhibited in conspicuous outline.

It had been much the same way on their entrance to the oasis; but then
they were not so well posted up in the peril of their position. They now
wondered at their not having been observed while advancing; but that
could be rationally accounted for, on the supposition that the Bedouins
had been, at the time, too busy over old Bill to take heed of anything
beyond the limits of their encampment.

It was different now. There was quiet in the camp, though both male and
female figures could be seen stirring among the tents. The _saturnalia_
that succeeded the castaway had come to a close. A comparative
peacefulness reigned throughout the valley; but in this very
tranquillity lay the danger which our adventurers dreaded.

With nothing else to attract their attention, the occupants of the
encampments would be turning their eyes in every direction. If any of
them should look westward at a given moment,--that is, while the three
mids should be "in the saddle,"--the latter could not fail to be
discovered.

What was to be done? There was no other way leading forth from the
valley. It was on all sides encircled by steep ridges of sand,--not so
steep as to hinder them from being scaled; but on every side, except
that on which they had entered, and by which they were about to make
their exit, the moon was shining in resplendent brilliance. A cat could
not have crawled up anywhere, without being seen from the tents,--even
had she been of the hue of the sand itself.

A hurried consultation, held between the trio of adventurers, convinced
them that there was nothing to be gained by turning back,--nothing by
going to the right or the left. There was no other way--no help for
it--but to scale the ridge in front, and "cut" as quickly as possible
across the hollow of the "saddle."

There _was_ one other way; or at least a deviation from the course which
had thus recommended itself. It was to wait for the going down of the
moon, before they should attempt the "crossing." This prudent project
originated in the brain of the young Scotchman; and it might have been
well if his companions had adopted the idea. But they would not. What
they had seen of Saäran civilization had inspired them with a keen
disgust for it; and they were only too eager to escape from its
proximity. The punishment inflicted upon poor Bill had made a painful
impression upon them; and they had no desire to become the victims of a
similar chastisement.

Colin did not urge his counsels. He had been as much impressed by what
he had seen as his companions, and was quite as desirous as they to give
the Bedouins a "wide berth." Withdrawing his opposition, therefore, he
acceded to the original design; and, without further ado, all three
commenced crawling up the slope.



CHAPTER XXVII.

A QUEER QUADRUPED.


Half way up, they halted, though not to take breath. Strong-limbed,
long-winded lads like them--who could have "swarmed" in two minutes to
the main truck of a man-o'-war--needed no such indulgence as that.
Instead of one hundred feet of sloping sand, any one of them could have
scaled Snowdon without stopping to look back.

Their halt had been made from a different motive. It was sudden and
simultaneous,--all three having stopped at the same time, and without
any previous interchange of speech. The same cause had brought them to
that abrupt cessation in their climbing; and as they stood side by side,
aligned upon one another, the eyes of all three were turned on the same
object.

It was an animal,--a quadruped. It could not be anything else if
belonging to a sublunary world; and to this it appeared to belong. A
strange creature notwithstanding; and one which none of the three
remembered to have met before. The remembrance of something like it
flitted across their brains, seen upon the shelves of a museum; but not
enough of resemblance to give a clue for its identification.

The quadruped in question was not bigger than a "San Bernard," a
"Newfoundland," or a mastiff: but seen as it was, it loomed larger than
any of the three. Like these creatures, it was canine in shape--lupine
we should rather say--but of an exceedingly grotesque and ungainly
figure. A huge square head seemed set without neck upon its shoulders;
while its fore limbs--out of all proportion longer than the hind
ones--gave to the spinal column a sharp downward slant towards the tail.
The latter appendage, short and "bunchy," ended abruptly, as if either
cut or "driven in,"--adding to the uncouth appearance of the animal. A
stiff hedge of hard bristles upon the back continued its _chevaux de
frise_ along the short, thick neck, till it ended between two erect
tufted ears. Such was the shape of the beast that had suddenly presented
itself to the eyes of our adventurers.

They had a good opportunity of observing its outlines. It was on the
ridge towards the crest of which they were advancing. The moon was
shining beyond. Every turn of its head or body--every motion made by its
limbs--was conspicuously revealed against the luminous background of the
sky.

It was neither standing, nor at rest in any way. Head, limbs, and body
were all in motion,--constantly changing, not only their relative
attitudes to one another, but their absolute situation in regard to
surrounding objects.

And yet the change was anything but arbitrary. The relative movements
made by the members of the animal's body, as well as the absolute
alterations of position, were all in obedience to strictly natural
laws,--all repetitions of the same manoeuvre, worked with a monotony
that seemed mechanical.

The creature was pacing to and fro, like a well-trained sentry,--its
"round" being the curved crest of the sand-ridge, from which it did not
deviate to the licence of an inch. Backward and forward did it traverse
the saddle in a longitudinal direction,--now poised upon the
pommel,--now sinking downward into the seat, and then rising to the
level of the coup,--now turning in the opposite direction, and retracing
in long, uncouth strides, the path over which it appeared to have been
passing since the earliest hour of its existence!

Independent of the surprise which the presence of this animal had
created, there was something in its aspect calculated to cause terror.
Perhaps, had the mids known what kind of creature it was, or been in any
way apprized of its real character, they would have paid less regard to
its presence. Certainly not so much as they did: for, instead of
advancing upon it, and making their way over the crest of the ridge,
they stopped in their track, and held a whispered consultation as to
what they should do.

It is not to be denied that the barrier before them presented a
formidable appearance. A brute, it appeared as big as a bull--for
magnified by the moonlight, and perhaps a little by the fears of those
who looked upon it, the quadruped was quite quadrupled in size.
Disputing their passage too; for its movements made it manifest that
such was its design. Backwards and forwards, up and down that curving
crest, did it glide, with a nervous quickness, that hindered any hope of
being able to rush past it--either before or behind--its own crest all
the while erected, like that of the dragon subdued by St. George.

With all his English "pluck"--even stimulated by this resemblance to the
national knight--Harry Blount felt shy to approach that creature that
challenged the passage of himself and his companions.

Had there been no danger _en arrière_, perhaps our adventurers would
have turned back into the valley, and left the ugly quadruped master of
the pass.

As it was, a different resolve was arrived at--necessity being the
dictator.

The three midshipmen, drawing their dirks, advanced in line of battle up
the slope. The Devil himself could scarce withstand such an assault.
England, Scotland, Ireland, abreast--_tres juncti in uno_--united in
thought, aim, and action--was there aught upon earth--biped, quadruped,
or _mille-pied_--that must not yield to the charge?

If there was, it was not that animal oscillating along the saddle of
sand, progressing from pommel to cantle, like the pendulum of a clock.

Whether natural or supernatural, long before our adventurers got near
enough to decide, the creature, to use a phrase of very modern mention,
"skedaddled," leaving them free--so far as it was concerned--to continue
their retreat unmolested.

It did not depart, however, until after delivering a salute, that left
our adventurers in greater doubt than ever of its true character. They
had been debating among themselves whether it was a thing of the earth,
of time, or something that belonged to eternity. They had seen it under
a fair light, and could not decide. But now that they had heard it,--had
listened to a strain of loud cachinnation,--scarce mocking the laughter
of the maniac,--there was no escaping from the conclusion that what they
had seen was either Satan himself, or one of his Ethiopian satellites!



CHAPTER XXVIII.

THE HUE AND CRY.


As the strange creature that had threatened to dispute their passage was
no longer in sight, and seemed, moreover, to have gone clear away, the
three mids ceased to think any more of it,--their minds being given to
making their way over the ridge without being seen by the occupants of
the encampment.

Having returned their dirks to the sheath, they continued to advance
towards the crest of the transverse sand-spar, as cautiously as at
starting.

It is possible they might have succeeded in crossing, without being
perceived, but for a circumstance of which they had taken too little
heed. Only too well pleased at seeing the strange quadruped make its
retreat, they had been less affected by its parting salutation,--weird
and wild as this had sounded in their ears. But they had not thought of
the effects which the same salute had produced upon the people of the
Arab camp, causing all of them, as it did, to turn their eyes in the
direction whence it was heard. To them there was no mystery in that
screaming cachinnation. Unearthly as it had echoed in the ears of the
three mids, it fell with a perfectly natural tone on those of the Arabs:
for it was but one of the well-known voices of their desert home,
recognized by them as the cry of the _laughing hyena_.

The effect produced upon the encampment was twofold. The children
straying outside the tents,--like young chicks frightened by the
swooping of a hawk,--ran inward; while their mothers, after the manner
of so many old hens, rushed forth to take them under their protection.
The proximity of a hungry hyena,--more especially one of the _laughing_
species,--was a circumstance to cause alarm. All the fierce creature
required was a chance to close his strong, vice-like jaws upon the limbs
of one of those juvenile Ishmaelites, and that would be the last his
mother should ever see of him.

Knowing this, the screech of the hyena had produced a momentary
commotion among the women and children of the encampment. Neither had
the men listened to it unmoved. In hopes of procuring its skin for house
or tent furniture, and its flesh for food,--for these hungry wanderers
will eat anything,--several had seized hold of their long guns, and
rushed forth from among the tents.

The sound had guided them as to the direction in which they should go;
and as they ran forward, they saw, not a hyena, but three human beings
just mounting upon the summit of the sand-ridge, under the full light of
the moon. So conspicuously did the latter appear upon the smooth crest
of the wreath, that there was no longer any chance of concealment. Their
dark blue dresses, the yellow buttons on their jackets, and the bands
around their caps, were all discernible. It was the costume of the sea,
not of the Saära. The Arab wreckers knew it at a glance; and, without
waiting to give a second, every man of the camp sallied off in
pursuit,--each, as he started, giving utterance to an ejaculation of
surprise or pleasure.

Some hurried forward afoot, just as they had been going out to hunt the
hyena; others climbed upon their swift camels; while a few, who owned
horses, thinking they might do better with them, quickly caparisoned
them, and came galloping on after the rest; all three sorts of
pursuers,--foot-men, horsemen, and maherrymen,--seemingly as intent upon
a contest of screaming, as upon a trial of speed!

It is needless to say that the three midshipmen were, by this time,
fully apprised of the "hue and cry" raised after them. It reached their
ears just as they arrived upon the summit of the sand-ridge; and any
doubt they might have had as to its meaning, was at once determined,
when they saw the Arabs brandishing their arms, and rushing out like so
many madmen from among the tents.

They stayed to see no more. To keep their ground could only end in their
being captured and carried prisoners to the encampment; and after the
spectacle they had just witnessed, in which the old man-o'-war's-man had
played such a melancholy part, any fate appeared preferable to that.

With some such fear all three were affected; and simultaneously yielding
to it, they turned their backs upon the pursuit, and rushed headlong
down the ravine, up which they had so imprudently ascended.



CHAPTER XXIX.

A SUBAQUEOUS ASYLUM.


As the gorge was of no great length, and the downward incline in their
favor, they were not long in getting to its lower end, and out to the
level plain that formed the sea-beach.

In their hurried traverse thither, it had not occurred to them to
inquire for what purpose they were running towards the sea? There could
be no chance of their escaping in that direction; nor did there appear
to be much in any other, afoot as they were, and pursued by mounted men.
The night was too clear to offer any opportunity of hiding themselves,
especially in a country where there was neither "brake, brush, nor
scaur" to conceal them. Go which way they would, or crouch wherever they
might, they would be almost certain of being discovered by their
lynx-eyed enemies.

There was but one way in which they _might_ have stood a chance of
getting clear, at least for a time. This was to have turned aside among
the sand ridges, and by keeping along some of the lateral hollows,
double back upon their pursuers. There were several such side hollows;
for on going up the main ravine they had observed them, and also in
coming down; but in their hurry to put space between themselves and
their pursuers, they had overlooked this chance of concealment.

At best it was but slim, though it was the only one that offered. It
only presented itself when it was too late for them to take advantage of
it,--only after they had got clear out of the gully and stood upon the
open level of the sea-beach, within less than two hundred yards of the
sea itself. There they halted, partly to recover breath and partly to
hold counsel as to their further course.

There was not much time for either; and as the three stood in a triangle
with their faces turned towards each other, the moonlight shone upon
lips and cheeks blanched with dismay.

It now occurred to them for the first time, and simultaneously, that
there was no hope of their escaping, either by flight or concealment.

They were already some distance out upon the open plain, as conspicuous
upon its surface of white sand as would have been three black crows in
the middle of a field six inches under snow.

They saw that they had made a mistake. They should have stayed among the
sand-ridges and sought shelter in some of the deep gullies that divided
them. They bethought them of going back; but a moment's deliberation was
sufficient to convince them that this was no longer practicable. There
would not be time, scarce even to re-enter the ravine, before their
pursuers would be upon them.

It was an instinct that had caused them to rush towards the sea--their
habitual home, for which they had thoughtlessly sped--notwithstanding
their late rude ejection from it. Now that they stood upon its shore, as
if appealing to it for protection, it seemed still desirous of spurning
them from its bosom, and leaving them without mercy to their merciless
enemies!

A line of breakers trended parallel to the water's edge--scarce a
cable's length from the shore, and not two hundred yards from the spot
where they had come to a pause.

They were not very formidable breakers--only the tide rolling over a
sand-bar, or a tiny reef of rocks. It was at best but a big surf,
crested with occasional flakes of foam, and sweeping in successive
swells against the smooth beach.

What was there in all this to fix the attention of the fugitives--for it
had? The seething flood seemed only to hiss at their despair!

And yet almost on the instant after suspending their flight, they had
turned their faces towards it--as if some object of interest had
suddenly shown itself in the surf. Object there was none--nothing but
the flakes of white froth and the black vitreous waves over which it was
dancing.

It was not an object, but a purpose that was engaging their attention--a
resolve that had suddenly sprung up within their minds--almost as
suddenly to be carried into execution. After all, their old home was not
to prove so inhospitable. It would provide them with a place of
concealment!

The thought occurred to all three almost at the same instant of time;
though Terence was the first to give speech to it.

"By Saint Patrick!" he exclaimed, "let's take to the wather! Them
breakers'll give us a good hiding-place. I've hid before now in that
same way, when taking a moonlight bath on the coast of owld Galway. I
did it to scare my schoolfellows--by making believe I was drowned. What
say ye to our trying it?"

His companions made no reply. They had scarce even waited for the
wind-up of his harangue. Both had equally perceived the feasibility of
the scheme; and yielding to a like impulse, all three started into a
fresh run, with their faces turned towards the sea.

In less than a score of seconds, they had crossed the strip of strand;
and in a similarly short space of time were plunging--thigh
deep--through the water; still striding impetuously onward, as if they
intended to wade across the Atlantic!

A few more strides, however, brought them to a stand--just inside the
line of breakers--where the seething waters, settling down into a state
of comparative tranquillity, presented a surface variegated with large
clouts of floating froth.

Amidst this mottling of white and black, even under the bright
moonlight, it would have been difficult for the keenest eye to have
detected the head of a human being--supposing the body to have been kept
carefully submerged; and under this confidence, the mids were not slow
in submerging themselves.

Ducking down, till their chins touched the water, all three were soon as
completely out of sight--to any eye looking from the shore--as if
Neptune, pitying their forlorn condition, had stretched forth his
trident with a bunch of seaweed upon its prongs, to screen and protect
them.



CHAPTER XXX.

THE PURSUERS NONPLUSSED.


Not a second too soon had they succeeded in making good their entry into
this subaqueous asylum. Scarce had their chins come in contact with the
water, when the voices of men--accompanied by the baying of dogs, the
snorting of maherries, and the neighing of horses--were heard within the
gorge, from which they had just issued; and in a few minutes after a
straggling crowd, composed of these various creatures, came rushing out
of the ravine. Of men, afoot and on horseback, twenty or more were seen
pouring forth; all, apparently, in hot haste, as if eager to be in at
the death of some object pursued,--that could not possibly escape
capture.

Once outside the jaws of the gully, the irregular cavalcade advanced
scatteringly over the plain. Only for a short distance, however; for, as
if by a common understanding rather than in obedience to any command,
all came to a halt.

A silence followed this halt,--apparently proceeding from astonishment.
It was general,--it might be said universal,--for even the animals
appeared to partake of it! At all events, some seconds transpired during
which the only sound heard was the sighing of the sea, and the only
motion to be observed was the sinking and swelling of the waves.

The Saäran rovers on foot,--as well as those that were mounted,--their
horses, dogs, and camels, as they stood upon that smooth plain, seemed
to have been suddenly transformed into stone, and set like so many
sphinxes in the sand.

In truth it _was_ surprise that had so transfixed them,--the men, at
least; and their well-trained animals were only acting in obedience to a
habit taught them by their masters, who, in the pursuit of their
predatory life, can cause these creatures to be both silent and still,
whenever the occasion requires it.

For their surprise,--which this exhibition of it proved to be
extreme,--the Sons of the Desert had sufficient reason. They had seen
the three midshipmen on the crest of the sand-ridge; had even noted the
peculiar garb that bedecked their bodies,--all this beyond doubt.
Notwithstanding the haste with which they had entered on the pursuit,
they had not continued it either in a reckless or improvident manner.
Skilled in the ways of the wilderness,--cautious as cats,--they had
continued the chase; those in the lead from time to time assuring
themselves that the game was still before them. This they had done by
glancing occasionally to the ground, where shoe-tracks in the soft
sand--three sets of them--leading to and fro, were sufficient evidence
that the three mids must have gone back to the _embouchure_ of the
ravine, and thither emerged upon the open sea-beach.

_Where were they now?_

Looking up the smooth strand as far as the eye could reach, and down it
to a like distance, there was no place where a crab could have screened
itself; and these Saäran wreckers, well acquainted with the coast, knew
that in neither direction was there any other ravine or gully into which
the fugitives could have retreated.

No wonder, then, that the pursuers wondered, even to speechlessness.

Their silence was of short duration, though it was succeeded only by
cries expressing their great surprise, among which might have been
distinguished their usual invocations to Allah and the Prophet. It was
evident that a superstitious feeling had arisen in their minds, not
without its usual accompaniment of fear; and although they no longer
kept their places, the movement now observable among them was that they
gathered closer together, and appeared to enter upon a grave
consultation.

This was terminated by some of them once more proceeding to the
_embouchure_ of the ravine, and betaking themselves to a fresh scrutiny
of the tracks made by the shoes of the midshipmen; while the rest sat
silently upon their horses and maherries awaiting the result.

The footmarks of the three mids were still easily traceable--even on the
ground already trampled by the Arabs, their horses, and maherries. The
"cloots" of a camel would not have been more conspicuous in the mud of
an English road, than were the shoe-prints of the three young seamen in
the sands of the Saära. The Arab trackers had no difficulty in making
them out; and in a few minutes had traced them from the mouth of the
gorge, almost in a direct line to the sea. There, however, there was a
breadth of wet sea-beach--where the springy sand instantly obliterated
any foot-mark that might be made upon it--and there the tracts ended.

But why should they have extended farther? No one could have gone beyond
that point, without either walking straight into the water, or keeping
along the strip of sea beach, upwards or downwards.

The fugitives could not have escaped in either way--unless they had
taken to the water, and committed suicide by drowning themselves! Up the
coast, or down it, they would have been seen to a certainty.

Their pursuers, clustering around the place where the tracks terminated,
were no wiser than ever. Some of them were ready to believe that
drowning had been the fate of the castaways upon their coast, and so
stated it to their companions. But they spoke only conjectures, and in
tones that told them, like the rest, to be under the influence of some
superstitious fear. Despite their confidence in the protection of their
boasted Prophet, they felt a natural dread of that wilderness of waters,
less known to them than the wilderness of sand.

Ere long they withdrew from its presence, and betook themselves back to
their encampment, under a half belief that the three individuals seen
and pursued had either drowned themselves in the great deep, or by some
mysterious means known to these strange men of the sea, had escaped
across its far-reaching waters!



CHAPTER XXXI.

A DOUBLE PREDICAMENT.


Short time as their pursuers had stayed upon the strand, it seemed an
age to the submerged midshipmen.

On first placing themselves in position, they had chosen a spot where,
with their knees resting upon the bottom, they could just hold their
chins above water. This would enable them to hold their ground without
any great difficulty, and for some time they so maintained it.

Soon, however, they began to perceive that the water was rising around
them,--a circumstance easily explained by the influx of the tide. The
rise was slow and gradual: but, for all that, they saw that should they
require to remain in their place of concealment for any length of time,
drowning must be their inevitable destiny.

A means of avoiding this soon presented itself. Inside the line of
breakers, the water shoaled gradually towards the shore. By advancing in
this direction they could still keep to the same depth. This course they
adopted--gliding cautiously forward upon their knees, whenever the tide
admonished them to repeat the manoeuvre.

This state of affairs would have been satisfactory enough, but for a
circumstance that, every moment, was making itself more apparent. At
each move they were not only approaching nearer to their enemies,
scattered along the strand; but as they receded from the line of the
breakers, the water became comparatively tranquil, and its smooth
surface, less confused by the masses of floating foam, was more likely
to betray them to the spectators on the shore.

To avoid this catastrophe--which would have been fatal--they moved
shoreward, only when it became absolutely necessary to do so, often
permitting the tidal waves to sweep completely over the crown of their
heads, and several times threaten suffocation.

Under circumstances so trying, so apparently hopeless, most lads--aye,
most men--would have submitted to despair, and surrendered themselves to
a fate apparently unavoidable. But with that true British
pluck--combining the tenacity of the Scotch terrier, the English
bulldog, and the Irish staghound--the three youthful representatives of
the triple kingdom determined to hold on.

And they held on, with the waves washing against their cheeks--and at
intervals quite over their heads--with the briny fluid rushing into
their ears and up their nostrils, until one after another began to
believe, that there would be no alternative between surrendering to the
cruel sea, or to the not less cruel sons of the Saära.

As they were close together, they could hold council,--conversing all
the time in something louder than a whisper. There was no risk of their
being overheard. Though scarce a cable's length from the shore, the
hoarse soughing of the surf would have drowned the sound of their
voices, even if uttered in a much louder tone; but being skilled in the
acoustics of the ocean, they exchanged their thoughts with due caution;
and while encouraging one another to remain firm, they speculated freely
upon the chances of escaping from their perilous predicament.

While thus occupied, a _predicament_ of an equally perilous, and still
more singular kind, was in store for them. They had been, hitherto
advancing towards the water's edge,--in regular progression with the
influx of the tide,--all the while upon their knees. This, as already
stated, had enabled them to sustain themselves steadily, without showing
anything more than three quarters of the head above the surface.

All at once, however, the water appeared to deepen; and by going upon
their knees they could no longer surmount the waves,--even with their
eyes. By moving on towards the beach, they might again get into shallow
water; but just at this point the commotion caused by the breakers came
to a termination, and the flakes of froth, with the surrounding spray of
bubbles, here bursting, one after another, left the surface of the sea
to its restored tranquillity. Anything beyond--a cork, or the tiniest
waif of seaweed--could scarce fail to be seen from the strand,--though
the latter was itself constantly receding as the tide flowed inward.

The submerged middies were now in a dilemma they had not dreamed of. By
holding their ground, they could not fail to "go under." By advancing
further, they would run the risk of being discovered to the enemy.

Their first movement was to get up from their knees, and raise their
heads above water by standing in a crouched attitude on their feet. This
they had done before,--more than once,--returning to the posture of
supplication only when too tired to sustain themselves.

This they attempted again, and determined to continue it to the last
moment,--in view of the danger of approaching nearer to the enemy.

To their consternation they now found it would no longer avail them.
Scarce had they risen erect before discovering that even in this
position they were immersed to the chin, and after plunging a pace or
two forward, they were still sinking deeper. They could feel that their
feet were not resting on firm bottom, but constantly going down.

"A quicksand!" was the apprehension that rushed simultaneously into the
minds of all three!

Fortunately for them, the Arabs at that moment, yielding to their
fatalist fears, had faced away from the shore; else the plunging and
splashing made by them in their violent endeavors to escape from the
quicksand, could not have failed to dissipate these superstitions, and
cause their pursuers to complete the capture they had so childlessly
relinquished.

As it chanced, the Saäran wreckers saw nothing of all this; and as the
splashing sounds, which otherwise might have reached them, were drowned
by the louder _sough_ of the sea, they returned toward their encampment
in a state of perplexity bordering upon bewilderment!



CHAPTER XXXII.

ONCE MORE THE MOCKING LAUGH.


After a good deal of scrambling and struggling, our adventurers
succeeded in getting clear of the quicksand, and planting their feet
upon firmer bottom,--a little nearer to the water's edge. Though at this
point more exposed than they wished to be, they concealed themselves as
well as they could, holding their faces under the water up to the eyes.

Though believing that their enemies were gone for good, they dared not
as yet wade out upon the beach. The retiring pursuers would naturally be
looking back; and as the moon was still shining clearly as ever, they
might be seen from a great distance.

They feel that they would not be safe in leaving their place of
concealment until the horde had recrossed the ridge, and descended once
more into the oasis that contained their encampment.

Making a rough calculation as to the time it would take for the return
journey,--and allowing a considerable margin against the eventuality of
any unforeseen delay,--the mids remained in their subaqueous retreat,
without any material change of position.

When at length it appeared to them that the "coast was clear," they rose
to their feet, and commenced wading towards the strand.

Though no longer believing themselves observed, they proceeded silently
and with caution,--the only noise made among them being the chattering
of their teeth, which were going like three complete sets of castanets.

This they could not help. The night breeze playing upon the saturated
garments,--that clung coldly around their bodies,--chilled them to the
very bones; and not only their teeth, but their knees knocked together,
as they staggered towards the beach.

Just before reaching it, an incident arose that filled them with fresh
forebodings. The strange beast that had threatened to intercept their
retreat over the ridge, once more appeared before their eyes. It was
either the same, or one of the same kind,--equally ugly, and to all
appearance, equally determined to dispute their passage.

It was now patrolling the strand close by the water's edge,--going
backwards and forwards, precisely as it had done along the saddle-shaped
sand wreath,--all the while keeping its hideous face turned towards
them. With the moon behind their backs, they had a better view of it
than before; but this, though enabling them to perceive that it was some
strange quadruped, did not in any way improve their opinion of it. They
could see that it was covered with a coat of long shaggy hair, of a
brindled brown color; and that from a pair of large orbs, set obliquely
in its head, gleamed forth a fierce, sullen light.

How it had come there they knew not; but there it was. Judging from the
experience of their former encounter with it they presumed it would
again retreat at their approach; and, once more drawing their dirks,
they advanced boldly towards it.

They were not deceived. Long before they were near, the uncouth creature
turned tail; and, again giving utterance to its unearthly cry, scampered
off towards the ravine,--in whose shadowy depths it soon disappeared
from their view.

Supposing they had nothing further to fear, our adventurers stepped out
upon the strand, and commenced consultation as to their future course.

To keep on down the coast and get as far as possible from the Arab
encampment,--was the thought of all three; and as they were unanimous in
this, scarce a moment was wasted in coming to a determination. Once
resolved, they faced southward; and started off as briskly as their
shivering frames and saturated garments would allow them.

There was not much to cheer them on their way,--only the thought that
they had so adroitly extricated themselves from a dread danger. But even
this proved only a fanciful consolation; for scarce had they made a
score of steps along the strand, when they were brought to a sudden
halt, by hearing a noise that appeared to proceed from the ravine behind
them.

It was a slight noise, something like a snort, apparently made by some
animal; and, for the moment, they supposed it to come from the ugly
quadruped that, after saluting them, had retreated up the gorge.

On turning their eyes in that direction, they at once saw that they were
mistaken. A quadruped had produced the noise; but one of a very
different kind from the hairy brute with which they had parted. Just
emerging from the shadow of the sand-hills, they perceived a huge
creature, whose uncouth shape proclaimed it to be a camel.

The sight filled them with consternation. Not that it was a camel; but
because, at the same time, they discovered that there was a man upon its
back, who, brandishing a long weapon, was urging the animal towards
them.

The three midshipmen made no effort to continue the journey thus
unexpectedly interrupted. They saw that any attempt to escape from such
a fast-going creature would be idle. Encumbered as they were with their
wet garments, they could not have distanced a lame duck; and, resigning
themselves to the chances of destiny, they stood awaiting the encounter.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

A CUNNING SHEIK.


When the camel and its rider first loomed in sight,--indistinctly seen
under the shadow of the sand dunes,--our adventurers had conceived a
faint hope that it might be Sailor Bill.

It was possible, they thought, that the old man-o-war's-man, left
unguarded in the camp, might have laid hands on the maherry that had
made away with him, and pressed it into service to assist his escape.

The hope was entertained only for an instant. Bill had encountered no
such golden opportunity; but was still a prisoner in the tent of the
black sheik, surrounded by his shrewish tormentors.

It was the maherry, however, that was seen coming back, for as it came
near the three middies recognized the creature whose intrusion upon
their slumbers of the preceding night had been the means, perhaps, of
saving their lives.

Instead of a Jack Tar now surmounting its high hunch, they saw a little
wizen-faced individual with sharp angular features, and a skin of
yellowish hue puckered like parchment. He appeared to be at least sixty
years of age; while his costume, equipments, and above all, a certain
authoritative bearing, bespoke him to be one of the head men of the
horde.

Such in truth was he,--one of the two sheiks,--the old Arab to whom the
straying camel belonged; and who was now mounted on his own maherry.

His presence on the strand at this, to our adventurers, most inopportune
moment, requires explanation.

He had been on the beach before, along with the others; and had gone
away with the rest. But instead of continuing on to the encampment, he
had fallen behind in the ravine; where, under the cover of some rocks,
and favored by the obscure light within the gorge, he had succeeded in
giving his comrades the slip. There he had remained,--permitting the
rest to recross the ridge, and return to the tents.

He had not taken these steps without an object. Less superstitious than
his black brother sheik, he knew there must be some natural explanation
of the disappearance of the three castaways; and he had determined to
seek, and if possible, to discover it.

It was not mere curiosity that prompted him to this determination. He
had been all out of sorts, with himself, since losing Sailor Bill in the
game of _helga_; and he was desirous of obtaining some compensation for
his ill-luck, by capturing the three castaways who had so mysteriously
disappeared.

As to their having either drowned themselves, or walked away over the
waste of waters, the old sheik had seen too many Saäran summers and
winters to give credence either to one tale or the other. He knew they
would turn up again; and though he was not quite certain of the where,
he more than half suspected it. He had kept his suspicions to
himself,--not imparting them even to his own special followers. By the
laws of the Saära, a slave taken by any one of the tribe belongs not to
its chief, but to the individual who makes the capture. For this reason,
had the cunning sexagenarian kept his thoughts to himself, and fallen
_solus_ into the rear of the returning horde.

It might be supposed that he would have made some of his following privy
to his plan,--for the sake of having help to effect such a wholesale
capture. But no. His experience as a "Barbary wrecker" had taught him
that there would be no danger,--no likelihood of resistance,--even
though the castaways numbered thirty instead of three.

Armed with this confidence, and his long gun, he had returned down the
ravine; and laid in wait near its mouth,--at a point where he commanded
a view of the coast line, to the distance of more than a mile on each
side of him.

His vigil was soon rewarded: by seeing the three individuals for whom it
had been kept step forth from the sea,--as if emerging from its
profoundest depths,--and stand conspicuously upon the beach.

He had waited for nothing more; but, giving the word to his maherry, had
ridden out of the ravine, and was now advancing with all speed upon the
tracks of the retreating mids.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

A QUEER ENCOUNTER.


In about threescore seconds from the time he was first seen pursuing
them, the old sheik was up to the spot where our adventurers had awaited
him.

His first salute appeared to be some words of menace or
command,--rendered more emphatic by a series of gestures made with his
long gun; which was successively pointed at the heads of the three. Of
course, none of them understood what was said; but his gesticulations
made it clear enough, that he required their company to the Arab
encampment.

Their first impulse was to yield obedience to this command; and Terence
had given a sign of assent, which was acquiesced in by Colin. Not so
Master Blount, in whom the British bulldog had become aroused even to
the showing of his teeth.

"See him hanged first!" cried Harry. "What! yield up to an old monkey
like that, and walk tamely to the camp at the tail of his camel? No such
thing! If I am to become a prisoner, it will be to one who can take me."

Terence, rather ashamed at having shown such facile submission, now
rushed to the opposite extreme; and drawing his dirk, cried out,--

"By Saint Patrick! I'm with you, Harry! Let's die, rather than yield
ourselves prisoners to such a queer old curmudgeon!"

Colin, before declaring himself, glanced sharply around,--carrying his
eye towards the _embouchure_ of the ravine, to assure himself that the
Arab was alone.

As there was nobody else in sight,--and no sound heard that would
indicate the proximity of any one,--it was probable enough that the
rider of the maherry was the only enemy opposed to them.

"The devil take him!" cried Colin, after making his cautious
reconnaissance. "If he take us, he must first fight for it. Come on, old
skin-flint! you'll find we're true British tars,--ready for a score of
such as you."

The three youths had by this time unsheathed their shining daggers, and
thrown themselves into a sort of triangle, the maherry in their midst.

The old sheik--unprepared for such a reception--was altogether taken
aback by it; and for some seconds sate upon his high perch seemingly
irresolute how to act.

Suddenly his rage appeared to rise to such a pitch, that he could no
longer command his actions; and bringing the long gun to his shoulder,
he levelled it at Harry Blount,--who had been foremost in braving him.

The stream of smoke, pouring forth from its muzzle, for a moment
enveloped the form of the youthful mariner; but from the midst of that
sulphury _nimbus_ came forth a clear manly voice, pronouncing the word
"Missed!"

"Thank God!" cried Terence and Colin, in a breath; "now we have him in
our power! He can't load again! Let's on him all together! Heave ho!"

And uttering this nautical phrase of encouragement, the three mids, with
naked dirks, rushed simultaneously towards the maherry.

The Arab, old as he may have been, showed no signs either of stiffness
or decrepitude. On the contrary he exhibited all the agility of a
tiger-cat; along with a fierce determination to continue the combat he
had initiated,--notwithstanding the odds that were against him. On
discharging his gun, he had flung the useless weapon to the ground; and
instead of it now grasped a long curving scimitar, with which he
commenced cutting around him in every direction.

Thus armed, he had the advantage of his assailants; for while he might
reach any one of them by a quick cut, they with their short dirks could
not come within thrusting-distance of him, without imminent danger of
having their arms, or perchance their heads, lopped sheer off their
shoulders.

Defensively, too, had the rider of the maherry an advantage over his
antagonists. While within distance of them, at the point of his curving
blade, seated upon his high perch, he was beyond the reach of their
weapons. Get close to him as they might, and spring as high as they were
able, they could not bring the tips of their daggers in contact with his
skin.

In truth, there seemed no chance for them to inflict the slightest wound
upon him; while at each fresh "wheel" of the maherry, and each new sweep
of the scimitar, one or other of them was in danger of decapitation!

On first entering upon the fight, our adventurers had not taken into
account the impregnable position of their antagonist. Soon, however, did
they discover the advantages in his favor, with their own proportionate
drawbacks. To neutralize these was the question that now occupied them.
If something was not done soon, one or other--perhaps all three--would
have to succumb to that keen cutting of the scimitar.

"Let's kill the camel!" cried Harry Blount, "that'll bring him within
reach; and then--"

The idea of the English youth was by no means a bad one; and perhaps
would have been carried out. But before he could finish his speech,
another scheme had been conceived by Terence,--who had already taken
steps towards its execution.

It was this that had interrupted Harry Blount in the utterance of his
counsel.

At school the young Milesian had been distinguished in the exercise of
vaulting. "Leap-frog" had been his especial delight; and no mountebank
could bound to a greater height than he. At this crisis he remembered
his old accomplishment, and called it to his aid.

Seeking an opportunity,--when the head of the maherry was turned towards
his comrades, and its tail to himself,--he made an energetic rush;
sprang half a score of feet from the ground; and flinging apart his
feet, while in the air, came down "stride legs" upon the croup of the
camel.

[Illustration: THE SHEIK CAPTURED]

It was fortunate for the old Arab that the effort thus made by the
amateur _saltimbanque_ had shaken the dirk from his grasp,--else, in
another instant, the camel would have ceased to "carry double."

As it was, its two riders continued upon its back; but in such close
juxtaposition, that it would have required sharp eyes and a good light
to tell that more than one individual was mounted upon it.

Fast enfolded in the arms of the vigorous young Hibernian, could scarce
be distinguished the carcass of the old Arab sheik,--shrunken to half
size by the powerful compression; while the scimitar, so late whistling
with perilous impetuosity through the air, was now seen lying upon the
sand,--its gleam no longer striking terror into the hearts of those
whose heads it had been threatening to lop off!



CHAPTER XXXV.

HOLDING ON TO THE HUMP.


The struggle between Terence and the sheik still continued, upon the
back of the maherry. The object of the young Irishman was to unhorse, or
rather _un-camel_, his antagonist, and get him to the ground.

This design the old Arab resisted toughly, and with all his strength,
knowing that dismounted he would be no match for the trio of stout lads
whom he had calculated on capturing at his ease. Once _à pied_ he would
be at their mercy, since he was now altogether unarmed. His gun had been
unloaded; and the shining scimitar, of which he had made such a
dangerous display, was no longer in his grasp. As already stated it had
fallen to the ground, and at that precious moment was being picked up by
Colin; who in all probability would have used it upon its owner, had not
the latter contrived to escape beyond its reach.

The mode of the sheik's escape was singular enough. Still tenaciously
holding on to the hump, from which the young Irishman was using every
effort to detach him, he saw that his only chance of safety lay in
retreating from the spot, and, by this means, separating the antagonist
who clutched him from the two others that threatened upon the ground
below.

A signal shout to the maherry was sufficient to effect his purpose. On
hearing it, the well-trained quadruped wheeled, as upon a pivot, and in
a shambling, but quick pace, started back towards the ravine, whence it
had late issued.

To their consternation Colin and Harry beheld this unexpected movement;
and before either of them could lay hold of the halter,--now trailing
along the sand,--the maherry was going at a rate of speed which they
vainly endeavored to surpass. They could only follow in its wake,--as
they did so, shouting to Terence to let go his hold of the sheik, and
take his chance of a tumble to the ground.

Their admonitions appeared not to be heeded. They were not needed,--at
least after a short interval had elapsed.

At first the young Irishman had been so intent on his endeavors to
dismount his adversary, that he did not notice the signal given to the
maherry, nor the retrograde movement it had inaugurated. Not until the
camel was re-entering the ravine, and the steep sides of the sand dunes
cast their dark shadows before him, did he observe that he was being
carried away from his companions.

Up to this time he had been vainly striving to detach the sheik from his
hold upon the hump. On perceiving the danger, however, he desisted from
this design, and at once entered upon a struggle of a very different
kind,--to detach himself.

In all probability this would have proved equally difficult, for,
struggle as he might, the tough old Arab, no longer troubling himself
about the control of his camel, had twisted his sinewy fingers under the
midshipman's dirk-belt, and held the latter in juxtaposition to his own
body, supported by the hump of the maherry, as if his very life depended
on not letting go.

A lucky circumstance--and this only--hindered the young Irishman from
being carried to the Arab encampment; a circumstance very similar to
that which on the preceding night had led to the capture of that same
camel.

Its halter was again trailing.

Its owner, occupied with the "double" which it had so unexpectedly been
called upon to carry, was conducting it only by his voice, and had
neither thought nor hands for the halter.

Once again the trailing end got into the split hoof--once again the
maherry was tripped up; and came down neck foremost upon the sand.

Its load was spilled--Bedouin and Hibernian coming together to the
ground--both, if not dangerously hurt, at least so shaken, as, for some
seconds, to be deprived of their senses.

Neither had quite recovered from the shock, when Harry Blount and Colin,
coming up in close pursuit, stooped over the prostrate pair; and neither
Arab nor Irishman was very clear in his comprehension, when a crowd of
strange creatures closed around them, and took possession of the whole
party; as they did so yelling like a cohort of fiends.

In the obfuscation of his "sivin" senses, the young Irishman may have
scarcely understood what was passing around him. It was too clear to his
companions,--clear as a catastrophe could be to those who are its
victims.

The shot fired by the sheik, if failing in the effects intended, had
produced a result almost equally fatal to the three fugitives,--it had
given warning to the Arabs in their encampment; who, again sallying
forth, had arrived just in time to witness the "decadence" of the camel,
and now surrounded the group that encircled it.

The courageous representative of England and the cool young Scotchman
were both taken by surprise, too much so to give them a chance of
thinking either of resistance or flight; while the mind of the Irish
middy, from a different cause, was equally in a hopeless "muddle."

It resulted in all three being captured and conducted up the ravine
towards the camp of the wreckers.



CHAPTER XXXVI.

OUR ADVENTURERS IN UNDRESS.


Our adventurers made their approach to the _douar_,--for such is the
title of an Arab encampment,--with as much unwillingness as Sailor Bill
had done but an hour before. Equally _sans cérémonie_, or even with less
ceremony, did they enter among the tents, and certainly in a less
becoming costume,--since all three were stark naked with the exception
of their shirts.

This was the only article of clothing their captors had left upon their
backs; and so far as comfort was concerned, they would have been as well
without it: for there was not a thread of the striped cotton that was
not saturated with sea-water.

It was a wonder that even these scanty garments were not taken from
them; considering the eagerness with which they had been divested of
everything else.

On the instant after being laid hold of, they had been stripped with as
much rapidity, as if their bodies were about to be submitted to some
ignominious chastisement. But they knew it was not that--only a desire
on the part of their captors to obtain possession of their
clothes--every article of which became the subject of a separate
contention, and more than one leading to a dispute that was near
terminating in a contest between two scimitars.

In this way their jackets and dreadnought trowsers--their caps and
shoes--their dirks, belts, and pocket paraphernalia--were distributed
among nearly as many claimants as there were pieces.

You may suppose that modesty interfered to reserve to them their shirts?
Such a supposition would be altogether erroneous. There is no such word
in the Bedouin vocabulary--no such feeling in the Bedouin breast.

In the _douar_ to which they were conducted were lads as old as they,
and lasses too, without the semblance of clothing upon their nude
bodies; not even a shirt,--not even the orientally famed fig-leaf!

The reason of their being allowed to retain their homely garments had
nothing to do with any sentiment of delicacy. For the favor,--if such it
could be called,--they were simply indebted to the avarice of the old
sheik, who, having recovered from the stunning effects of his tumble,
claimed all three as his captives, _and their shirts along with them_!

His claim as to their persons was not disputed; they were his by Saäran
custom. So, too, would their clothing, had his capture been complete;
but as there was a question about this, a distribution of the garments
had been demanded and acceded to.

The sheik, however, would not agree to giving up the shirts; loudly
declaring that they belonged to the skin; and after some discussion on
this moot point, his claim was allowed; and our adventurers were spared
the shame of entering the Arab encampment _in puris naturalibus_.

In their shirts did they once more stand face to face with Sailor Bill,
not a bit better clad than they: for though the old man-o'-war's-man was
still "anchored" by the marquee of the black sheik, his "toggery" had
long before been distributed throughout the _douar_; and scarce a tent
but contained some portion of his "belongings."

His youthful comrades saw, but were not permitted to approach him. They
were the undisputed property of the rival chieftain,--to whose tent they
were taken; but not until they had "run a muck" among the women and
children, very similar to that which Bill had to submit to himself. It
terminated in a similar manner: that is, by their _owner_ taking them
under his protection,--not from any motives of humanity, but simply to
save his property from receiving damage at the hands of the incarnate
female furies, who seemed to take delight in maltreating them!

The old sheik, after allowing his _fair_ followers, with their juvenile
_neophites_, for some length of time to indulge in their customary mode
of saluting strange captives, withdrew the latter beyond the reach of
persecution, to a place assigned them under the shadow of his tent.
There, with a sinewy Arab standing over them,--though as often squatted
beside them,--they were permitted to pass the remainder of the night, if
not in sleep at least in a state of tranquillity.



CHAPTER XXXVII.

THE CAPTIVES IN CONVERSATION.


This tranquillity only related to any disturbance experienced from their
captors. There was none.

These had been on the eve of striking their tents, and moving off to
some other oasis,--previous to the last incident that had arisen.

As already stated, the two sheiks, by a mutual understanding, had been
about to shake hands, and separate,--the son of Japhet going north, to
the markets of Morocco, while the descendant of Ham was to face homeward
to his more tropical and appropriate clime,--under the skies of
Timbuctoo.

The "windfall" that had so unexpectedly dropped into the _douar_; first
in the shape of Sailor Bill,--and afterwards, in more generous guise, by
the capture of the three "young gentlemen" of the gunroom,--had caused
some change in the plans of their captors.

By mutual understanding between the two sheiks, something was to be done
in the morning; and their design of separating was deferred to another
day.

The order to strike tents had been countermanded: and both tribes
retired to rest,--as soon as the captives had been disposed of for the
night.

The douar was silent,--so far as the children of Ham and Japhet were
concerned. Even _their_ children had ceased to clamor and squall.

At intervals might be heard the neigh of a Barbary horse, the barking of
a dog, the bleating of a goat, or a sound yet more appropriate to the
scene, the snorting of a maherry.

In addition to these, human voices were heard. But they proceeded from
the throats of the sons of Shem. For the most part they were uttered in
a low tone, as the three midshipmen conversed seriously and earnestly
together; but occasionally they became elevated to a higher pitch, when
Sailor Bill, guarded on the opposite side of the encampment--took part
in the conversation, and louder speech was necessary to the interchange
of thought between him and his fellow-captives.

The Arab watchers offered no interruption. They understood not a word of
what was being said, and so long as the conversation of their captives
did not disturb the douar, they paid no heed to it.

"What have they done to you, Bill?" was the first question asked by the
new comers, after they had been left free to make inquiries.

"Faix!" responded the sailor, for it was Terry who had put the
interrogatory: "iverything they cowld think av--iverything to make an
old salt as uncomfortable as can be. They've not left a sound bone in my
body; nor a spot on my skin that's not ayther pricked or scratched wid
thar cruel thorns. My carcass must be like an old seventy-four after
comin' out av action--as full av holes as a meal sieve."

"But what did they do to you, Bill?" said Colin, almost literally
repeating the interrogatory of Terence.

The sailor detailed his experiences since entering the encampment.

"It's very clear," remarked the young Scotchman, "that we need look for
nothing but ill-treatment at the hands of these worse than savages. I
suppose they intend making slaves of us."

"That at least," quietly assented Harry.

"Sartin," said the sailor. "They've let me know as much a'ready. There
be two captains to their crew; one's the smoke-dried old sinner as
brought yer in; the other a big nayger, as black as the ace o' spades.
You saw the swab? He's inside the tent here. He's my master. The two
came nigh quarrelling about which should have me, and settled it by some
sort o' a game they played wi' balls of kaymal's dung. The black won me;
an' that's why I'm kep by his tent. Mother av Moses! Only to think of a
British tar being the slave o' a sooty nayger! I never thought it wud a
come to this."

"Where do you think they'll take us, Bill?"

"The Lord only knows, an' whether we're all bound for the same port."

"What! you think we may be separated?"

"Be ma sang, Maister Colin, I ha'e ma fears we wull!"

"What makes you think so?"

"Why, ye see, as I've telt ye, I'm booked to ship wi' the
black,--'sheik' I've heerd them ca' him. Well: from what I ha'e seed and
heerd, there's nae doot they're gaein' to separate an' tak different
roads. I did na ken muckle o' what they sayed, but I could mak oot two
words I hae often heerd while cruisin' in the Gulf o' Guinea. They are
the names o' two great toons, a lang way up the kintry,--Timbuctoo and
Sockatoo. They are negro toons; an' for that reezun I ha'e a suspeshun
my master's bound to one or other o' the two ports."

"But why do you think that we are to be taken elsewhere?" demanded Harry
Blount.

"Why, because, Master 'Arry, you belong to the hold sheik, as is plainly
a Harab, an' oose port of hentry lies in a different direction,--that be
to the northart."

"It is all likely enough," said Colin; "Bill's prognostication is but
too probable."

"Why, ye see, Maister Colin, they are only land sharks who ha'e got hold
o' us. They're too poor to keep us; an' wull be sure to sell us
somewhere, an' to somebody that ha'e got the tocher to gie for us.
That's what they'll do wi' us poor bodies."

"I hope," said Terence, "they'll not part us. No doubt slavery will be
hard enough to bear under any circumstances; but harder if we have to
endure it alone. Together, we might do something to alleviate one
another's lot. I hope we shall not be separated!"

To this hope all the others made a sincere response; and the
conversation came to an end. They who had been carrying it on, worn out
by fatigue, and watchfulness long protracted,--despite the
unpleasantness of their situation,--soon after, and simultaneously,
yielded their spirits to the soothing oblivion of sleep.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

THE DOUAR AT DAWN.


They could have slept for hours,--twenty-four of them,--had they been
permitted such indulgence.

But they were not. As the first streaks of daylight became visible over
the eastern horizon, the whole douar was up and doing.

The women and children of both hordes were seen flitting like shadows
among the tents. Some squatted under camels, or kneeling by the sides of
the goats, drew from these animals that lacteal fluid that may be said
to form the staple of their food. Others might be observed emptying the
precious liquid into skin bottles and sacks, and securing it against
spilling in its transport through the deserts.

The matrons of the tribes--hags they looked--were preparing the true
_dejeûner_, consisting of _Sangleh_,--a sort of gruel, made with millet
meal, boiled over a dull fire of camel's dung.

The _Sangleh_ was to be eaten, by such of them as could afford it, mixed
with goats' or camels' milk,--unstrained and hairy,--half curdled into a
crab-like acidity, the moment it entered its stinking receptacle.

Here and there men were seen milking their mares or maherries,--not a
few indulging in the universal beverage by a direct application of their
lips to the teats of the animal; while others, appointed to the task,
were preparing the paraphernalia of the douar, for transportation to
some distant oasis.

Watching these various movements, were the three mids,--still stripped
to their shirts,--and the old man-o'-war's-man, clad with like
scantiness; since the only garment that clung to his sinewy frame was a
pair of cotton drawers neither very clean nor very sound at the seams.

All four shivered in the chill air of the morning; for hot as is the
Saära under its noonday sun, in the night hours its thermometer
frequently falls almost to the point of freezing!

Their state of discomfort did not hinder them from observing what was
passing around them. They could have slept on; but the discordant noises
of the douar, and a belief that they would not be permitted any longer
to enjoy their interrupted slumbers, hindered them from reclosing their
eyes. Still recumbent, and occasionally exchanging remarks in a low tone
of voice, they noted the customs of their captors.

The young Scotchman had read many books relating to the _prairies_ of
America, and their savage denizens. He was forcibly reminded of these by
what he now saw in this oasis of the sandy Saära; the women treated like
dogs, or worse,--doing all the work that might be termed labor,--tending
the cattle, cooking the meals, pitching or striking the tents, loading
the animals,--and themselves bearing such portions of the load as
exceeded the transport strength of the tribal quadrupeds,--aided only by
such wretched helots as misfortune had flung in the way of their common
masters. The men, mostly idle,--ludicrously nonchalant,--reclining on
their saddle-pads, or skins, inhaling the narcotic weed, apparently
proud in the possession of that lordship of wretchedness that surrounded
them.

Colin was constrained to compare the savage life of two continents,
separated by an ocean. He came to the conclusion, that under similar
circumstances, mankind will ever be the same. In the Comanche of the
_Llano Estacado_, or the Pawnee of the Platte, he would have found an
exact counterpart of the Ishmaelitish wanderer over the sandy plains of
the Saära.

He was allowed but scant time to philosophize upon these ethnological
phenomena. As the douar became stirred into general activity, he, along
with his two companions, was rudely started from his attitude of
observation, and ordered to take a share in the toils of the captors.

At an earlier hour, and still more rudely, had Sailor Bill received the
commands of his master; who, as the first rays of the Aurora began to
dapple the horizon, had ordered the old man-o-war's-man to his feet, at
the same time administering to him a cruel kick, that came very near
shivering some of his stern timbers.

Had the black sheik been acquainted with the English language,--as
spoken in Ratcliff Highway,--he would have better understood Sailor
Bill's reply to his rude matutinal salutation; which, along with several
not very complimentary wishes, ended by devoting the "nayger's" eyes to
eternal perdition.



CHAPTER XXXIX.

AN OBSTINATE DROMEDARY.


The morning meal was eaten as soon as prepared. Its scantiness
surprised our adventurers. Even the more distinguished individuals
of the horde partook of only a very small quantity of milk, or
sangleh. The two sheiks alone got anything like what might have been
deemed an ordinary breakfast; while the more common class, as the
half-breeds--_hassanes_--and the negro slaves had to content themselves
with less than a pint of sour milk to each, half of which was water--the
mixture denominated _cheni_.

Could this meal be meant for breakfast? Harry Blount and Terence thought
not. But Colin corrected them, by alleging that it was. He had read of
the wonderful abstemiousness of these children of the desert: how they
can live on a single meal a day, and this scarce sufficient to sustain
life in a child of six years old; that is, an English child. Often will
they go for several successive days without eating and when they do eat
regularly, a drink of milk is all they require to satisfy hunger.

Colin was right. It was their ordinary breakfast. He might have added,
their dinner too, for they would not likely obtain another morsel of
food before sundown.

But where was the breakfast of Colin and his fellow-captives? This was
the question that interested them far more than the dietary of the
Bedouins. They were all hungering like hyenas, and yet no one seemed to
think of them--no one offered them either bite or sup. Filthy as was the
mess made by the Arab women, and filthily as they prepared it,--boiling
it in pots, and serving it up in wooden dishes, that did not appear to
have had a washing for weeks,--the sight of it increased the hungry
cravings of the captives; and they would fain have been permitted to
share the scanty _dejeûner_.

They made signs of their desire; piteous appeals for food, by looks and
gestures; but all in vain: not a morsel was bestowed on them. Their
brutal captors only laughed at them, as though they intended that all
four should go without eating.

It soon became clear that they were not to starve in idleness. As soon
as they had been started to their feet each of them was set to a task;
one to collect camels' dung for the cooking fires; another to fetch
water from the brackish muddy pool which had caused the oasis to become
a place of encampment; while the third was called upon to assist in the
loading of the tent equipage, along with the salvage of the wreck,--an
operation entered upon as soon as the sangleh had been swallowed.

Sailor Bill, in a different part of the douar, was kept equally upon the
alert: and if he, or any of the other three, showed signs of disliking
their respective tasks, one of the two sheiks made little ado about
striking them with a leathern strap, a knotty stick, or any weapon that
chanced to come readiest to hand. They soon discovered that they were
under the government of taskmasters not to be trifled with, and that
resistance or remonstrance would be alike futile. In short, they saw
_that they were slaves_!

While packing the tents, and otherwise preparing for the march, they
were witnesses to many customs, curious as new to them. The odd
equipages of the animals,--both those of burden and those intended to be
ridden,--the oval panniers, placed upon the backs of the camels, to
carry the women and younger children; the square pads upon the humps of
the maherries; the tawny little piccaninnies strapped upon the backs of
their mothers; the kneeling of the camels to receive their loads,--as if
consenting to what could not be otherwise than disagreeable to
them,--were all sights that might have greatly interested our
adventurers, had they been viewing them under different circumstances.

Out of the last mentioned of these sights, an incident arose,
illustrating the craft of their captors in the management of their
domestic animals.

A refractory camel, that, according to usual habit, had voluntarily
humiliated itself to receive its load, after this had been packed upon
it, refused to rise to its feet. The beast either deemed the burden
inequable and unjust,--for the Arabian camel, like the Peruvian llama,
has a very acute perception of fair play in this respect,--or a fit of
caprice had entered its mulish head. For one reason or another it
exhibited a stern determination _not_ to oblige its owner by rising to
its feet; but continued its genuflexion in spite of every effort to get
it on all-fours.

Coaxing and cajolery were tried to no purpose. Kicking by sandalled
feet, scourging with whips, and beating with cudgels produced no better
effect; and to all appearance the obstinate brute had made up its mind
to remain in the oasis and let the tribe depart without it.

At this crisis an ingenious method of making the camel change its mind
suggested itself to its master; or perhaps he had practised it on some
former occasion. Maddened by the obstinacy of the animal, he seized hold
of an old burnouse, and rushing up, threw it over its head. Then drawing
the rag tightly around its snout, he fastened it in such a manner as
completely to stop up the nostrils.

The camel finding its breathing thus suddenly interrupted, became
terrified; and without further loss of time, scrambled to its feet--to
the great amusement of the women and children who were spectators of the
scene.



CHAPTER XL.

WATERING THE CAMELS.


In an incredibly short space of time the tents were down, and the douar
with all its belongings was no longer to be seen; or only in the shape
of sundry packages balanced upon the backs of the animals.

The last operation before striking out upon the desert track, was the
watering of these; the supply for the journey having been already dipped
up out of the pool, and poured into goat-skin sacks.

The watering of the camels appeared to be regarded as the most important
matter of all. In this performance every precaution was taken, and every
attention bestowed, to ensure to the animals a full supply of the
precious fluid,--perhaps from a presentiment on the part of their owners
that they themselves might some day stand in need of, and make use of,
the _same_ water!

Whether this was the motive or not, every camel belonging to the horde
was compelled to drink till its capacious stomach was quite full; and
the quantity consumed by each would be incredible to any other than the
owner of an African dromedary, Only a very large cask could have
contained it.

At the watering of the animals, our adventurers had an opportunity of
observing another incident of the Saära,--quite as curious and original
as that already described.

It chanced that the pool that furnished the precious fluid, and which
contained the only fresh water to be found within fifty miles, was just
then on the eve of being dried up. A long season of drought--that is to
say, _three or four years_--had reigned over this particular portion of
the desert, and the lagoon, formerly somewhat extensive, had shrunk into
the dimensions of a trifling tank, containing little more than two or
three hundred gallons. This, during the stay of the two tribes united as
wreckers, had been daily diminishing; and had the occupants of the douar
not struck tents at the time they did, in another day or so they would
have been in danger of suffering from thirst. This was in reality the
cause of their projected migration. But for the fear of getting short in
the necessary commodity of fresh water, they would have hugged the
seashore a little longer, in hopes of picking up a few more "waifs" from
the wreck of the English ship.

At the hour of their departure from the encampment, the pool was on the
eve of exhaustion. Only a few score gallons of not very pure water
remained in it--about enough to fill the capacious stomachs of the
camels; whose owners had gauged them too often to be ignorant of the
quantity.

It would not do to play with this closely calculated supply. Every pint
was precious; and to prove that it was so esteemed, the animals were
constrained to swallow it in a fashion, which certainly nature could
never have intended.

Instead of taking it in by the mouth the camels of these Saäran rovers
were compelled to quench their thirst through the nostrils!

You will wonder in what manner this could be effected? inquiring whether
the quadrupeds voluntarily performed this nasal imbibing?

Our adventurers, witnesses of the fact, wondered also--while struck with
its quaint peculiarity.

There is a proverb that "one man may take a horse to the water, but
twenty cannot compel him to drink." Though this proverb may hold good of
an English horse, it has no significance when applied to an African
dromedary. Proof. Our adventurers saw the owner of each camel bring his
animal to the edge of the pool; but instead of permitting the thirsty
creature to step in and drink for itself, its head was held aloft, a
wooden funnel was filled, the narrow end inserted into the nostril, and
by the respiratory canal the water introduced to the throat and stomach!

You may ask, why this selection of the nostrils instead of the mouth?
Our adventurers so interrogated one another. It was only after becoming
better acquainted with the customs of the Saära that they acquired a
satisfactory explanation of one they had frequent occasion to observe.

Though ordinarily of the most docile disposition, and in most of its
movements the most tranquil of creatures, the dromedary, when drinking
from a vessel, has the habit of repeatedly shaking its head, and
spilling large quantities of the water placed before it. Where water is
scarce,--and, as in the Saära, considered the most momentous matter of
life,--a waste of it after such a fashion could not be tolerated. To
prevent it, therefore, the camel-owner has contrived that this animal,
so essential to his own safe existence, should drink through the
orifices intended by nature for its respiration.



CHAPTER XLI.

A SQUABBLE BETWEEN THE SHEIKS.


The process of watering the camels was carried on with the utmost
diligence and care. It was too important to be trifled with, or
negligently performed. While filling the capacious stomachs of the
quadrupeds, their owners were but laying in a stock for themselves.

As Sailor Bill jocularly remarked, "it was like filling the water-casks
of a man-of-war previous to weighing anchor for a voyage." In truth,
very similar was the purpose for which these ships of the desert were
being supplied; for, when filling the capacious stomachs of the
quadrupeds, their owners were not without the reflection that the supply
might yet pass into their own. Such a contingency was not improbable,
neither would it be new.

For this reason the operation was conducted with diligence and care,--no
camel being led away from the pool until it was supposed to have had a
"surfeit," and this point was settled by seeing the water poured in at
its nostrils running out at its mouth.

As each in turn got filled, it was taken back to the tribe to which it
belonged; for the united hordes had by this time become separated into
two distinct parties, preparatory to starting off on their respective
routes.

Our adventurers could now perceive a marked difference between the two
bands of Saära wanderers into whose hands they had unfortunately fallen.
As already stated, the black sheik was an African of the true negro
type, with thick lips, flattened nostrils, woolly hair, and heels
projecting several inches to the rear of his ankle-joints. Most of his
following were similarly "furnished," though not all of them. There were
a few of mixed color, with straight hair, and features almost Caucasian,
who submitted to his rule, or rather to his ownership, since these last
all appeared to be his slaves.

Those who trooped after the old Arab were mostly of his own race, mixed
with a remnant of mongrel Portuguese,--descendants of the peninsular
colonists who had fled from the coast settlements after the conquest of
Morocco by the victorious "Sheriffs."

Of such mixed races are the tribes who thinly people the Saära,--Arabs,
Berbers, Ethiopians of every hue; all equally Bedoweens,--wanderers of
the pathless deserts. It did not escape the observation of our
adventurers that the slaves of the Arab sheik and his followers were
mostly pure negroes from the south, while those of the black
chieftain,--as proclaimed by the color of their skin,--showed a Shemitic
or Japhetic origin. The philosophic Colin could perceive in this a
silent evidence of the retribution of races.

The supply of water being at length laid in, not only in the skins
appropriated to the purpose, but also within the stomachs of the camels,
the two tribes seemed prepared to exchange with each other the parting
salute,--to speak the "Peace be with you!" And yet there was something
that caused them to linger in each other's proximity. Their new-made
captives could tell this, though ignorant of what it might be.

It was something that had yet to be settled between the two sheiks, who
did not appear at this moment of leave-taking to entertain for each
other any very cordial sentiment of friendship.

Could their thoughts have found expression in English words, they would
have taken shape somewhat as follows:--

"That lubberly nigger," (we are pursuing the train of reflections that
passed through the mind of the Arab sheik,) "old Nick burn him!--thinks
I've got more than my share of this lucky windfall. He wants these boys
bad,--I know that. The Sultan of Timbuctoo has given him a commission to
procure _white slaves_,--that's clear; and _boy slaves_ if he
can,--that's equally certain. This lot would suit him to a T. I can tell
that he don't care much for the old salt he has tricked me out of by his
superior skill at that silly game of helga. No; His Majesty of the
mud-walled city don't want such as him. It's boys he's after,--as can
wait smartly at his royal table, and give _éclat_ to his ceremonial
entertainments. Well, he can have these _three at a price_."

"Ay, but a big price," continued the cunning old trafficker in human
flesh, after a short reflection, "a wopping big price. The togs we've
stripped from them were no common clothing. Good broadcloth in their
jackets, and bullion bands on their caps. They must be the sons of great
sheiks. At Wedmoon the old Jew will redeem them. So, too, the merchants
at Suse; or maybe I had best take them on to Mogador, where the consul
of their country will come down handsomely for such as they. Yes, that's
the trick!"

At this parting scene the thoughts of Fatima's husband were equally
occupied with trading speculations, in which he was assisted by the
amiable Fatima herself.

Translated also into English, they would have read as follows:--

"The Sultan would give threescore of his best blacks for those three
tripe-colored brats."

"I know it, Fatty dear; he's told me so himself."

"Then why not get them, and bring 'em along?"

"Ah, that's easy to say. How can I? You know they belong to the old Arab
by right,--at least, he claims them, though not very fairly, for if we
hadn't come up in good time they would have taken him instead of his
taking them; no matter for that, they're his now by the laws of the
Saära."

"Bother the laws of the Saära!" exclaimed Fatima, with a disdainful toss
of her head, and a scornful turning up of her two protruding teeth; "all
stuff and nonsense! There's no law in the Saära; and if there was, you
know we're never coming into it again. The price you'd get for those
three hobbledehoys would keep us comfortable for the balance of our
lives; and we need never track the Devil's Desert again. Take 'em by
force from old Yellow-face, if you can't get 'em otherwise; but you may
'chouse' him out of them at a game of _helga_,--you know you can beat
him at that. If he won't play again, try your hand at bargaining against
your blacks; offer him two to one."

Thus counselled by the partner of his bosom, the black sheik, instead of
bidding the _saleik aloum_ to his Arab _confrère_, raised his voice
aloud, and demanded from the latter a parley upon business of
importance.



CHAPTER XLII.

THE TRIO STAKED.


The parley that followed was of course unintelligible to our
adventurers, the _Boy Slaves_.

But although they did not understand the words that were exchanged
between the two sheiks, they were not without having a conjecture as to
their import. The gestures made by the two men, and their looks cast
frequently towards themselves, led them to believe that the conversation
related to their transference from one to the other.

There was not much to choose between the two masters. Both appeared to
be unfeeling savages, and so far had treated their captives with much
cruelty. They could only hope, in case of a transfer taking place, that
it would not be partial, but would extend to the trio, and that they
would be kept together. They had been already aware that old Bill was to
be parted from them, and this had caused them a painful feeling; but to
be themselves separated, perhaps never to meet again, was a thought
still more distressing.

The three youths had long been shipmates,--ever since entering the naval
service of their country. They had become fast friends; and believed
that whatever might be the fate before them, they could better bear it
in each other's company. Companionship would at least enable them to
cheer one another; mutual sympathy would, to some extent, alleviate the
hardest lot; while alone, and under such cruel taskmasters, the prospect
was gloomy in the extreme.

With feelings of keen anxiety, therefore, did they listen to the
palaver, and watch the countenances of their captors.

After a full half-hour spent in loud talking and gesticulating, some
arrangement appeared to have been arrived at between the two sheiks.
Those most interested in it could only guess what it was by what
followed.

Silence having been partially restored, the old Arab was seen to step up
to the spot where the slaves of the black sheik were assembled; and,
after carefully scrutinizing them, pick out three of the stoutest,
plumpest, and healthiest young negroes in the gang. These were separated
from the others, and placed on the plain some distance apart.

"We're to be exchanged," muttered Terence, "we're to belong to the ugly
black nagur. Well, perhaps it's better. We'll be with old Bill."

"Stay a wee," said Colin; "there's something more to come yet, I think."

The black sheik at this moment coming up, interrupted the conversation
of the captives.

What was he going to do? Take them with him, they supposed. The old Arab
had himself led out the three young "darkies"; and the black sheik was
about to act in like manner with the trio of white captives.

So reasoned they; and, as it was a matter of indifference to them with
which they went, they would offer no opposition.

To their chagrin, however, instead of all three, only one of them was
led off; the other two being commanded by gestures to keep their ground.

It was O'Connor to whom this partiality was shown; the black sheik
having selected him after a short while spent in scrutinizing and
comparing the three. The Irish youth was of stouter build than either of
his shipmates; and this, perhaps, guided the black sheik in making his
choice. By all appearances, the conditions of the exchange were to be
different from what our adventurers had anticipated. It was not to be
man for man, or boy for boy; but three for one,--three blacks to a
white.

This was, in reality, the terms that had been agreed upon. The
avaricious old Arab, not caring very much to part with his share of the
spoil, would not take less than three to one; and to this the black
sheik, after long and loud bargaining, had consented.

Terence was led up, and placed alongside the three young darkies, who,
instead of taking things as seriously as he, were exhibiting their
ivories in broad grins of laughter, as if the disposal of their persons
was an affair to be treated only as a joke!

Our adventurers were now apprehensive that they were to be separated.
Their only hope was that the bargaining would not end there; but would
extend to a further exchange of six blacks for the two remaining whites.

Their conjectures were interrupted by their seeing that the "swop" was
not yet considered complete.

What followed, in fact, showed them that it was not a regular trade at
all; but a little bit of gambling between the two sheiks, in which
Terence and the three young blacks were to be the respective stakes.

Old Bill was able to explain the proceedings, from his experience of the
preceding night; and as he saw the two sheiks repair to the place where
his own proprietorship had been decided, he cried out:--

"Yere goin' to be gambled for, Masther Terry! Och! ye'll be along wid
me,--for the black can bate the owld Arab at that game, all hollow."

The holes in which the _helga_ had been played on the preceding night
were now resorted to. The proper number of dung pellets were procured,
and the game proceeded.

It ended as the old man-o'-war's-man had prognosticated, by the black
sheik becoming the winner and owner of Terence O'Connor.

The Arab appeared sadly chagrined, and by the way in which he strutted
and stormed over the ground, it was evident he would not rest satisfied
with his loss. When did gamester ever leave gaming-table so long as a
stake was left him to continue the play?

Two of the midshipmen still belonged to the old sheik. With these he
might obtain a _revanche_. He made the trial. He was unfortunate, as
before. Either the luck was against him, or he was no match at "desert
draughts" for his sable antagonist.

It ended in the black sheik becoming the owner of the three midshipmen,
who, restored to the companionship of Sailor Bill, in less than twenty
minutes after the conclusion of the game, were trudging it across the
desert in the direction of Timbuctoo!



CHAPTER XLIII.

GOLAH.


In their journey over the sea of sand, our four adventurers formed part
of a company of sixteen men and women, along with six or seven children.

All were the property of one man,--the huge and dusky sheik who had won
Sailor Bill and the three middies at "desert draughts."

It soon became known to his white captives that his name was Golah, a
name which Terence suggested might probably be an African abbreviation
of the ancient name of Goliah.

Golah was certainly a great man,--not in bone and flesh alone, but in
intellect as well.

We do not claim for him the gigantic mind that by arranging a few
figures and symbols, by the light of a lamp in a garret, could discover
a new planet in the solar system, and give its dimensions, weight, and
distance from the dome of St. Paul's. Neither do we claim that the power
of his intellect, if put forth in a storm of eloquence, could move the
masses of his fellow-creatures, as a hurricane stirs up the waters of
the sea; yet for all this Golah had a great intellect. He was born to
rule, and not a particle of all the propensities and sentiments
constituting his mind was ever intended to yield to the will of another.

The cunning old sheik, who had the first claim to the three mids, had
been anxious to retain them; but they were also wanted by Golah, and the
Arab was compelled to give them up, after having been fairly beaten at
the game; parting with his sable competitor in a mood that was anything
but agreeable.

The black sheik had three wives, all of whom possessed the gift of
eloquence in a high degree.

For all this a simple glance from him was enough to stop any one of them
in the middle of a monosyllable.

Even Fatima, the favorite, owed much of her influence to the ability she
displayed in studying her lord's wishes to the neglect of her own.

Golah had seven camels, four of which were required for carrying himself
and his wives, with their children, trappings, tent utensils, and tents.

The three other camels were laden with the spoils which had been
collected from the wreck.

Twelve of the sixteen adults in the company were compelled to walk,
being forced to keep up with the camels the best way they could.

One of these was Golah's son, a youth about eighteen years of age. He
was armed with a long Moorish musket, a heavy Spanish sword, and the
dirk that had been taken from Colin.

He was the principal guard over the slaves, in which duty he was
assisted by another youth, whom our adventurers afterwards learnt was a
brother of one of Golah's wives.

This second youth was armed with a musket and scimitar, and both he and
Golah's son seemed to think that their lives depended on keeping a
constant watch over the ten slaves; for there were six others besides
Sailor Bill and his young companions. They had all been captured,
purchased, or won at play, during Golah's present expedition, and were
now on the way to some southern market.

Two of the six were pronounced by Sailor Bill to be Kroomen,--a race of
Africans with whose appearance he was somewhat familiar, having often
seen them acting as sailors in ships coming from the African coast.

The other slaves were much lighter in complexion, and by the old
man-o'-war's-man were called "Portugee blacks." All had the appearance
of having spent some time in bondage on the great Saära.

On the first day of their journey the white captives had learnt the
relations existing between the majority of the company and the chief
Golah; and each of them felt shame as well as indignation at the
humiliating position in which he was placed.

Those feelings were partly excited and greatly strengthened by hunger
and thirst, as well as by the painful toil they had to undergo in
dragging themselves over the sandy plain beneath a scorching sun.

"I have had enough of this," said Harry Blount to his companions. "We
might be able to stand it several days longer, but I've no curiosity to
learn whether we can or not."

"Go on! you are thinking and speaking for me, Harry," said Terence.

"There are four of us," continued Harry,--"four of that nation whose
people boast they _never will be slaves_; besides, there are six others,
who are our fellow-bondsmen. They're not much to look at, but still they
might count for something in a row. Shall we four British tars, belong
to a party of ten,--all enslaved by three men,--black men at that?"

"That's just what I've been thinking about for the last hour or two,"
said Terence. "If we don't kill old Golah, and ride off with his camels,
we deserve to pass every day of our lives as we're doing this one--in
slavery."

"Just say the word,--when and how," cried Harry "I'm waiting. There are
seven camels. Let us each take one; but before we go we must eat and
drink the other three. I'm starving."

"Pitch on a plan, and I'll pitch into it," rejoined Terence. "I'm ready
for anything,--from pitch and toss up to manslaughter."

"Stay, Master Terence," interrupted the old sailor. "Av coorse ye are
afther wantin' to do somethin', an' thin to think aftherwards why ye did
it. Arry, my lad, yer half out o yer mind. Master Colin be the only yin
o' ye that keeps his seven senses about him. Suppose all av ye, that the
big chief was dead, an' that his son was not alive, and that the other
nager was a ristin' quietly wid his black heels turned from the place
where the daisies hought to grow,--what should we do thin? We 'ave
neyther chart nor compass. We could'ner mak oot our reckonin'. Don't ye
see a voyage here is just like one at sea, only it be just the revarse.
When men are starvin' at sea, they want to find land, but when they are
starvin' in the desert they want to find water. The big nager, our
captain, can navigate this sea in safety,--we can't. We must let him
take us to some port and then do the best we can to escape from him."

"You are quite right," said Colin, "in thinking that we might be unable
to find our way from one watering-place to another; but it is well for
us to calculate all the chances. After reaching some _port_, as you call
it, may we not find ourselves in a position more difficult to escape
from,--where we will have to contend with a hundred or more of these
negro brutes in place of only three?"

"That's vary likely," answered the sailor; "but they're only men, and we
'av a chance of beatin' 'em. We may fight with men, and conquer 'em, an'
we may fight with water an' conquer that; but when we fight against no
water that will conquer us. Natur is sure to win."

"Bill's right there," said Terence, "and I feel that Nature is getting
the best of me already."

While they were holding this conversation, they noticed that one of the
Kroomen kept near them, and seemed listening to all that was said. His
sparkling eyes betrayed the greatest interest.

"Do you understand us?" asked old Bill, turning sharply towards the
African, and speaking in an angry tone.

"Yus, sa,--a lilly bit," answered the Krooman, without seeming to notice
the unpleasant manner in which the question had been put.

"And what are you listening for?"

"To hear what you tell um. I like go in Ingleesh ship. You talk good for
me. I go long with you."

With some difficulty the sailor and his companions could comprehend the
Krooman's gibberish. They managed to learn from him that he had once
been in an English ship, and had made a voyage along the African coast,
trading for palm-oil. While on board he had picked up a smattering of
English. He was afterwards shipwrecked in a Portuguese brig. Cast away
on the shores of the Saära, just as our adventurers had been, and had
passed four years in the desert,--a slave to its denizens.

He gratified our adventurers by telling them that they were in no danger
of having to endure a prolonged period of captivity, as they would soon
be sold into liberty, instead of slavery. Golah could not afford to keep
slaves; and was only a kidnapper and dealer in the article. He would
sell them to the highest bidder, and that would be some English consul
on the coast.

The Krooman said there was no such hope for him and his companions, for
their country did not redeem its subjects from slavery.

When he saw that Golah had obtained some English prisoners, he had been
cheered with the hope that he might be redeemed along with them, as an
English subject, to which right he had some claim from having served on
an English ship!

During the day the black slaves--well knowing the duty they were
expected to perform, had been gathering pieces of dried camels' dung
along the way; this was to supply fuel for the fire of the douar at
night.

Soon after sunset Golah ordered a halt, when the camels were unloaded
and the tents set up.

About one quarter the quantity of _sangleh_ that each required, was then
served out to the slaves for their dinner, and as they had eaten nothing
since morning, this article of food appeared to have greatly improved,
both in appearance and flavor. To the palate of our adventurers it
seemed delicious.

Golah, after examining his human property, and evidently satisfied with
the condition of all, retired to his tent; from which soon after issued
sounds that resembled a distant thunder-storm.

The black sheik was snoring!

The two young men--his son and brother-in-law--relieved each other
during the night in keeping watch over the slaves.

Their vigil was altogether unnecessary. Weak, and exhausted with hunger
and fatigue, the thoughts of the captives were not of the future, but of
present repose; which was eagerly sought, and readily found, by all four
of them.



CHAPTER XLIV.

A DAY OF AGONY.


An hour before sunrise the next morning, the slaves were given some
_cheni_ to drink, and then started on their journey.

The sun, as it soared up into a cloudless sky, shot forth its rays much
warmer than upon the day before, while not a breath of air fanned the
sterile plain. The atmosphere was as hot and motionless as the sands
under their feet. They were no longer hungry. Thirst--raging, burning
thirst--extinguished or deadened every other sensation.

Streams of perspiration poured from their bodies, as they struggled
through the yielding sand; yet, with all this moisture streaming from
every pore, their throats, tongues, and lips became so parched that any
attempt on their part to hold converse only resulted in producing a
series of sounds that resembled a death-rattle.

Golah, with his family, rode in the advance, and seemed not to give
himself any concern whether he was followed by others or not. His two
relatives brought up the rear of the _kafila_, and any of the slaves
exhibiting a disposition to lag behind was admonished to move on with
blows administered by a thick stick.

"Tell them I must have water or die," muttered Harry to the Krooman in a
hoarse whisper. "I am worth money, and if old Golah lets me die for want
of a drop of water, he's a fool."

The Krooman refused to make the communication--which he declared would
only result in bringing ill treatment upon himself.

Colin appealed to Golah's son, and by signs gave him to understand that
they must have water. The young black, in answer, simply condescended to
sneer at him. He was not suffering himself, and could have no sympathy
for another.

The hides of the blacks, besmeared with oil, seemed to repel the
scorching beams of the sun; and years of continual practice had no doubt
inured them to the endurance of hunger and thirst to a surprising
degree. To their white fellow-captives they appeared more like huge
reptiles than human beings.

The sand along the route on this, the second day, was less compact than
before, and the task of leg-lifting, produced a weariness such as might
have arisen from the hardest work. Added to the agony of their thirst,
the white sufferers dwelt frequently on thoughts of death--that great
antidote to human miseries; yet so constrained were their actions by
force of circumstances, that only by following their leader and owner,
Golah, could they hope to find relief.

Had he allowed them to turn back to the coast, whence they had started,
or even to repose for a few hours on the way, they could not have done
so. They were compelled to move on, by a power that could not be
resisted.

That power was Hope,--the hope of obtaining some _sangleh_ and a little
dirty water.

To turn back, or to linger behind, would bring them nothing but more
suffering,--perhaps death itself.

A man intent on dying may throw himself into the water to get drowned,
and then find himself involuntarily struggling to escape from the death
he has courted.

The same irresistible antipathy to death compelled his white captives to
follow the black sheik.

They were unwilling to die,--not for the sole reason that they had homes
and friends they wished to see again,--not solely for that innate love
of life, implanted by Nature in the breasts of all; but there was a
pleasure which they desired to experience once more,--aye, yearned to
indulge in it: the pleasure of quenching their terrible thirst. To
gratify this pleasure they must follow Golah.

One of Golah's wives had three children; and, as each wife was obliged
to look after her own offspring, this woman could not pursue her journey
without a little more trouble than her less favored companions.

The eldest of her children was too young to walk a long distance; and,
most of the time, was carried under her care upon the maherry. Having
her three restless imps, to keep balanced upon the back of the camel,
requiring her constant vigilance to prevent them from falling off, she
found her hands full enough. It was a sort of travelling that did not at
all suit her; and she had been casting about for some way of being
relieved from at least a portion of her trouble.

The plan she devised was to compel some one of the slaves to carry her
eldest child, a boy about four years of age.

Colin was the victim selected for this duty. All the attempts made by
the young Scotchman to avoid the responsibilities thus imposed upon him
proved vain. The woman was resolute, and Colin had to yield; although he
resisted until she threatened to call Golah to her assistance.

This argument was conclusive; and the young darkey was placed upon
Colin's shoulders, with its legs around his neck, and one of its hands
grasping him tightly by the hair.

When this arrangement was completed, night had drawn near; and the two
young men who acted as guards hastened forward to select a place for the
douar.

There was no danger of any of the slaves making an attempt to escape;
for all were too anxious to receive the small quantity of food that was
to be allowed them at the night halt.

Encumbered with the "piccaninny," and wearied with the long, ceaseless
struggle through the sand, Colin lingered behind his companions. The
mother of the child, apparently attentive to the welfare of her
first-born, checked the progress of her maherry, and rode back to him.

After the camels had been unloaded, and the tents pitched, Golah
superintended the serving out of their suppers, which consisted only of
_sangleh_. The quantity was even less than had been given the evening
before; but it was devoured by the white captives with a pleasure none
of them had hitherto experienced.

Sailor Bill declared that the brief time in which he was employed in
consuming the few mouthfuls allowed him, was a moment of enjoyment that
repaid him for all the sufferings of the day.

"Ah, Master Arry!" said he, "it's only now we are larnin' to live,
although I did think, one time to-day, we was just larnin' to die. I
never mean to eat again until I'm hungry Master Terry," he added,
turning to the young Irishman, "isn't this foine livin' intirely? and
are yez not afther bein' happy?"

"'T is the most delicious food man ever ate," answered Terence, "and the
only fault I can find is that there is not enough of it."

"Then you may have what is left of mine," said Colin, "for I can't say
that I fancy it."

Harry, Terence, and the sailor gazed at the young Scotchman with
expressions of mingled alarm and surprise. Small as had been the amount
of _sangleh_ with which Colin had been served, he had not eaten more
than one half of it.

"Why, puir Maister Colly, what is wrang wi' ye?" exclaimed Bill, in a
tone expressing fear and pity. "If ye dinna eat, mon, ye'll dee."

"I'm quite well," answered Colin, "but I have had plenty, and any of you
can take what is left."

Though the hunger of Colin's three companions was not half satisfied,
they all refused to finish the remainder of his supper, hoping that he
might soon find his appetite, and eat it himself.

The pleasure they had enjoyed in eating the small allowance given them
rendered it difficult for them to account for the conduct of their
companion. His abstemiousness caused them uneasiness, even alarm.



CHAPTER XLV.

COLIN IN LUCK.


The next morning, when the caravan started, Colin again had the care of
the young black. He did not always have to carry him, as part of the
time the boy trotted along by his side.

During the fore-part of the day, the young Scotchman with his charge
easily kept up with his companions, and some of the time might be seen a
little in advance of them. His kind attentions to the boy were observed
by Golah, who showed some sign of human feeling, by exhibiting a
contortion of his features intended for a smile.

Towards noon, Colin appeared to become fatigued with the toil of the
journey, and then fell back to the rear, as he had done the evening
before. Again the anxious mother, ever mindful of the welfare of her
offspring, was seen to check her camel, and wait until Colin and the boy
overtook her.

Sailor Bill had been much surprised at Colin's conduct the evening
before, especially at the patient manner in which the youth had
submitted to the task of looking after the child. There was a mystery in
the young Scotchman's behavior he could not comprehend,--a mystery that
soon became more profound. It had also attracted the attention of Harry
and Terence, notwithstanding the many unpleasant circumstances of the
journey calculated to abstract their thoughts from him and his charge.

Shortly after noon, the woman was seen driving Colin up to the _kafila_,
urging him forward with loud screams, and blows administered with the
knotted end of the rope by which she guided her maherry.

After a time Golah, apparently annoyed by her shrill, scolding voice,
ordered her to desist, and permit the slave to continue his journey in
peace.

Although unable to understand the meaning of her words, Colin must have
known that the woman was not using terms of endearment.

The screaming, angry tone, and the blows of the rope might have told him
this; and yet he submitted to her reproaches and chastisements with a
meekness and a philosophic resignation which surprised his companions.

When his thoughts were not too much absorbed by painful reveries over
the desire for food and water, Harry endeavored to converse with the
Krooman already mentioned. He now applied to the man for an
interpretation of the words so loudly vociferated by the angry negress,
and launched upon the head of the patient young Scotchman.

The Krooman said that she had called the lad a lazy pig, a Christian
dog, and an unbelieving fool; and that she threatened to kill him unless
he kept up with the _kafila_.

On the third day of their journeying, it chanced not to be quite so hot
as on the one preceding it; and consequently the sufferings of the
slaves, especially from thirst, were somewhat less severe.

"I shall never endure such agony again," said Harry, speaking of his
experience of the previous day. "Perhaps I may die for the want of
water, and on this desert; but I can never suffer so much real pain a
second time."

"'Ow is that, Master Arry?" asked Bill.

"Because I cannot forget, after my experience of last night, that the
greater the desire for water, the more pleasure there is in gratifying
it; and the anticipation of such happiness will go far to alleviate
anything I may hereafter feel."

"Well, there be summat in that, for sartin," answered the sailor, "for I
can't 'elp thinkin' about 'ow nice our supper was last night, and only
'ope it will taste as well to-night again."

"We have learnt something new," said Terence, "new, at least, to me; and
I shall know how to live when I get where there is plenty. Heretofore I
have been like a child--eating and drinking half my time, not because I
required it, but because I knew no better. There is Colly, now, he don't
seem to appreciate the beauty of this Arabian style of living; or he may
understand it better than we. Perhaps he is waiting until he acquires a
better appetite, so that he may have all the more pleasure in gratifying
it. Where is he now?"

They all looked about. They saw that Colin had once more fallen behind;
and that the mother of the child was again waiting for him.

Harry and Terence walked on, expecting that they would soon see their
companion rudely driven up by the angry negress.

Sailor Bill stopped, as though he was interested in being a witness to
the scene thus anticipated.

In a few minutes after, the young Scotchman, with the child, was hurried
forward by the enraged hag--who once more seemed in a great rage at his
inability or unwillingness to keep up with the others.

"I ken it 'a noo," said Bill, after he had stood for some time
witnessing the ill-treatment heaped upon Colin.

"Our freen Colly's in luck. I've no langer any wonder at his taking a'
this tribble wi' the blackey bairn."

"What is it, Bill? what have you learnt now?" asked Terence and Harry in
a breath.

"I've larnt why Colly could not eat his dinner yesterday."

"Well, why was it?"

"I've larnt that the nager's anger with Colly is all a pretince, an'
that she's an old she schemer."

"Nonsense, Bill; that is all a fancy of yours," said Colin, who, with
the child on his shoulders, was now walking alongside his companions.

"It is no fancy of mine, mon," answered Bill, "but a fancy o' the woman
for a bra' fair luddie. What is it that she gives you to eat, Maister
Colly?"

Seeing that it was idle to conceal his good fortune any longer, Colin
now confessed it,--informing them that the woman, whenever she could do
so without being seen, had given him a handful of dried figs, with a
drink of camel's milk from a leathern bottle which she carried under her
cloak.

Notwithstanding the opinion they had just expressed, on the enjoyment
attending prolonged thirst and hunger, Colin's companions congratulated
him on his good fortune,--one and all declaring their willingness to
take charge of the little darkey, on the condition of being similarly
rewarded.

They had no suspicion at that moment that their opinions might soon
undergo a change; and that Colin's supposed good fortune would ere long
become a source of much uneasiness to all of them.



CHAPTER XLVI.

SAILOR BILL'S EXPERIMENT.


The afternoon of this day was very warm, yet Golah rode on at such a
quick pace, that it required the utmost exertion of the slaves to keep
up with him.

This manner of travelling, under the circumstances in which he was
required to pursue it, proved too severe for Sailor Bill to endure with
any degree of patience.

He became unable, as he thought, to walk any farther; or, if not wholly
unable, he was certainly unwilling, and he therefore sat down.

A heavy shower of blows produced no effect in moving him from the spot
where he had seated himself, and the two young men who acted as guards,
not knowing what else to do, and having exhausted all their arguments,
accompanied by a series of kicks, at length appealed to Golah.

The sheik instantly turned his maherry, and rode back.

Before he had reached the place, however, the three mids had used all
their influence in an endeavor to get their old companion to move on. In
this they had been joined by the Krooman, who entreated Bill, if he
placed any value on his life, to get up before Golah should arrive, for
he declared the monster would show him no mercy.

"For God's sake," exclaimed Harry Blount, "if it is possible for you to
get up and go a little way farther, do so."

"Try to move on, man," said Terence, "and we will help you. Come, Bill,
for the sake of your friends try to get up. Golah is close by."

While thus speaking, Terence, assisted by Colin, took hold of Bill and
tried to drag him to his feet; but the old sailor obstinately persisted
in remaining upon the ground.

"Perhaps I could walk on a bit farther," said he, "but I won't. I've 'ad
enough on it. I'm goin' to ride, and let Golah walk awhile. He's better
able to do it than I am. Now don't you boys be so foolish as to get
yersels into trouble on my account. All ye've got to do is to look on,
an' ye'll larn somethin'. If I've no youth an' beauty, like Colly, to
bring me good luck, I've age and experience, and I'll get it by
schamin'."

On reaching the place where the sailor was sitting, Golah was informed
of what had caused the delay, and that the usual remedy had failed of
effect.

He did not seem displeased at the communication. On the contrary, his
huge features bore an expression that for him might have been considered
pleasant.

He quietly ordered the slave to get up, and pursue his journey.

The weary sailor had blistered feet; and, with his strength almost
exhausted by hunger and thirst, had reached the point of desperation.
Moreover, for the benefit of himself and his young companions, he wished
to try an experiment.

He told the Krooman to inform the sheik that he would go on, if allowed
to ride one of the camels.

"You want me to kill you?" exclaimed Golah, when this communication was
made to him; "you want to cheat me out of the price I have paid for you;
but you shall not. You must go on. I, Golah, have said it."

The sailor, in reply, swore there was no possible chance for them to
take him any farther, without allowing him to ride.

This answer to the sheik's civil request was communicated by the
Krooman; and, for a moment, Golah seemed puzzled as to how he should
act.

He would not kill the slave after saying that he must go on; nor would
he have him carried, since the man would then gain his point.

He stood for a minute meditating on what was to be done. Then a hideous
smile stole over his features. He had mastered the difficulty.

Taking its halter from the camel, he fastened one end of it to the
saddle, and the other around the wrists of the sailor. Poor old Bill
made resistance to being thus bound, but he was like an infant in the
powerful grasp of the black sheik.

The son and brother-in-law of Golah stood by with their muskets on full
cock, and the first move any of Bill's companions could have made to
assist him, would have been a signal for them to fire.

When the fastenings were completed, the sheik ordered his son to lead
the camel forward, and the sailor, suddenly jerked from his attitude of
repose, was rudely dragged onward over the sand.

"You are going now!" exclaimed Golah, nearly frantic with delight; "and
we are not carrying you, are we? Neither are you riding? _Bismillah!_ I
am your master!"

The torture of travelling in this manner was too great to be long
endured, and Bill had to take to his feet and walk forward as before. He
was conquered; but as a punishment for the trouble he had caused, the
sheik kept him towing at the tail of the camel for the remainder of that
day's journey.

Any one of the white slaves would once have thought that he possessed
too much spirit to allow himself or a friend to be subjected to such
treatment as Bill had that day endured.

None of them was deficient in true courage; yet the proud spirit, of
which each had once thought himself possessed, was now subdued by a
power to which, if it be properly applied, all animate things must
yield.

That power was the feeling of hunger; and there is no creature so wild
and fierce but will tamely submit to the dominion of the man who
commands it. It is a power that must be used with discretion, or the
victims to it, urged by desperation, may destroy their keeper. Golah had
the wisdom to wield it with effect; for by it, with the assistance of
two striplings, he easily controlled those who, under other
circumstances, would have claimed the right to be free.



CHAPTER XLVII.

AN UNJUST REWARD.


The next morning on resuming the journey Golah condescended to tell his
captives that they should reach a well or spring that afternoon, and
stay by it for two or three days.

This news was conveyed to Harry by the Krooman; and all were elated at
the prospect of rest, with a plentiful supply of water.

Harry had a long conversation with the Krooman as they were pursuing
their route. The latter expressed his surprise that the white captives
were so contented to go on in the course in which the sheik was
conducting them.

This was a subject about which Harry and his companions had given
themselves no concern; partly because that they had no idea that Golah
was intending to make a very long journey, and partly that they supposed
his intentions, whatever they were, could not be changed by anything
they might propose.

The Krooman thought different. He told Harry that the route they were
following, if continued, would lead them far into the interior of the
country--probably to Timbuctoo; and that Golah should be entreated to
take them to some port on the coast, where they might be ransomed by an
English consul.

Harry perceived the truth of these suggestions; and, after having a
conversation with his companions, it was determined between them that
they should have a talk with Golah that very night.

The Krooman promised to act as interpreter, and to do all in his power
to favor their suit. He might persuade the sheik to change his
destination, by telling him that he would find a far better market in
taking them to some place where vessels arrive and depart, than by
carrying them into the interior of the country.

The man then added, speaking in a mysterious manner, that there was one
more subject on which he wished to give them warning. When pressed to
mention it, he appeared reluctant to do so.

He was at last prevailed upon to be more communicative; when he
proclaimed his opinion, that their companion, Colin, would never leave
the desert.

"Why is that?" asked Harry.

"Bom-by he be kill. De sheik kill um."

Although partly surmising his reasons for having formed this opinion,
Harry urged him to further explain himself.

"Ef Golah see de moder ob de piccaninny gib dat lad one lilly fig,--one
drop ob drink, he kill um, sartin-sure. I see, one, two,--seb'ral more
see. Golah no fool. Bom-by he see too, and kill um bof,--de lad an' de
piccaninny moder."

Harry promised to warn his companion of the danger, and save him before
the suspicions of Golah should be aroused.

"No good, no good," said the Krooman.

In explanation of this assertion, Harry was told that, should the young
Scotchman refuse any favor from the woman, her wounded vanity would
change her liking to the most bitter hatred, and she would then contrive
to bring down upon him the anger of Golah,--an anger that would
certainly be fatal to its victim.

"Then what must I do to save him?" asked Harry.

"Noting," answered the Krooman. "You noting can do. Ony bid him be good
man, and talk much,--pray to God. Golah wife lub him, and he sure muss
die."

Harry informed the sailor and Terence of what the Krooman had told him,
and the three took counsel together.

"I believes as how the darkey be right," said Bill. "Of course, if the
swab Goliarh larns as 'ow one av 'is wives ha' taken a fancy to Master
Colly, 't will be all up wi' the poor lad. He will be killed,--and
mayhap eaten too, for that matter."

"Like enough," assented Terence. "And should he scorn her very
particular attentions, her resentment might be equally as dangerous as
Golah's. I fear poor Colin has drifted into trouble."

"What ye be afther sayin' about the woman," said Bill, "'minds me o' a
little story I wunce heeard whin I was a boy. I read it in a book called
the Bible. It was about a young man, somethin' like Master Colly,
barrin' his name was Joseph. A potter's wife tuck a fancy to him; but
Joseph, bein' a dacent an' honest youngster, treted her wid contimpt,
an' came to great grief by doin' that same. You must 'ave read that
story, Master 'Arry," continued Bill, turning from Terence to the young
Englishman, and changing his style of pronunciation. "Did it not 'appen
summers in this part o' the world? Hif I remember rightly, it did. I
know 't was summers in furrin parts."

"Yes," answered Harry, "that little affair did happen in this part of
the world,--since it was in Africa,--and our comrade has a fair prospect
of being more unfortunate than Joseph. In truth, I don't see how we
shall be able to assist him."

"There he is, about a hundred cable lengths astern," said Bill, looking
back. "And there's the old 'oman, too, lookin' sharp afther him, while
Colly is atin' the figs and drinkin' the camel's milk; and while I'm
dying for a dhrop of that same, old Goliarh is no doubt proud wid the
great care she's takin' of his child. Bud won't there be a row when he
larns summat more? Won't there, Master 'Arry?"

"There will, indeed," answered Harry. "Colin will soon be up with us,
and we must talk to him."

Harry was right, for Colin soon after overtook them,--having been driven
up as usual by the negress, who seemed in great anger at the trouble he
was causing her.

"Colin," said Harry, when their companion and the child had joined them,
"you must keep that woman away from you. Her partiality for you has
already been noticed by others. The Krooman has just been telling us
that you will not live much longer; that Golah is neither blind nor
foolish; and that, on the slightest suspicion he has of the woman
showing you any favor,--even to giving you a fig,--he will kill you."

"But what can I do?" asked Colin. "If the woman should come to you and
offer you a handful of figs and a drink of milk, could you refuse them?"

"No, I certainly could not. I only wish such an alternative would
present itself; but you must manage in some way or other to keep away
from her. You must not linger behind, but remain all the time by us."

"If you knew," asked Colin, "that you could quench your thirst by
lagging a few paces behind, would you not do so?"

"That would be a strong temptation, and I should probably yield; but I
tell you that you are in danger."

Neither of Colin's companions could blame him. Suffering, as he was,
from the ceaseless agony of hunger and thirst, any indiscretion, or even
crime, seemed justifiable, for the sake of obtaining relief.

The day became hotter and hotter, until in the afternoon the sufferings
of the slaves grew almost unendurable. Sailor Bill appeared to be more
severely affected than any of his companions. He had been knocking about
the world for many long years, injuring his constitution by dissipation
and exposure in many climes; and the siege that thirst and hunger were
now making to destroy his strength became each hour more perceptible in
its effect.

By the middle of the afternoon it was with the utmost difficulty he
could move along; and his tongue was so parched that in an attempt to
speak he wholly failed. His hands were stretched forth towards Colin;
who, since the warning he had received, had kept up along with the rest.

Colin understood the signal; and placed the boy on the old man's
shoulders. Bill wished to learn if the mother would reward him for
taking care of her child, as she had his predecessor in the office. To
carry out the experiment he allowed himself to be left in the rear of
the caravan.

Golah's son and the other guard had noticed the old sailor's suffering
condition, and objected to his being incumbered with the child. They
pointed to Harry and Terence; but Bill was resolute in holding on to his
charge; and cursing him for an unbelieving fool, they allowed him to
have his own way.

Not long after, the mother of the child was seen to stop her camel, and
the three mids passed by her unnoticed. The old sailor hastened up as
fast as his weary limbs would allow to receive the hoped-for reward; but
the poor fellow was doomed to a cruel disappointment.

When the woman perceived who had been entrusted with the carrying of her
child, she pronounced two or three phrases in a sharp, angry tone.
Understanding them, the child dismounted from the sailor's back and ran
with all speed towards her.

Bill's reward was a storm of invectives, accompanied by a shower of
blows with the knotted end of the halter. He strove to avoid the
punishment by increasing his speed; but the camel seemed to understand
the relative distance that should be maintained between its rider and
the sailor, so that the former might deliver and the latter receive the
blows with the most painful effect. This position it kept until Bill had
got up to his companions; his naked shoulders bearing crimson evidence
of the woman's ability in the handling of a rope's end.

As she rode past Colin, who had again taken charge of the child, she
gave the young Scotchman a look that seemed to say, "You have betrayed
me!" and without waiting for a look in return, she passed on to join her
husband at the head of the caravan.

The black slaves appeared highly amused at the sailor's misfortunes. The
incident had aroused their expiring energies, and the journey was
pursued by them with more animation than ever.

Bill's disappointment was not without some beneficial effect upon
himself. He was so much revived by the beating, that he soon after
recovered his tongue; and as he shuffled on alongside his companions,
they could hear him muttering curses, some in good English, some in bad,
some in a rich Irish brogue, and some in the broadest Scotch.



CHAPTER XLVIII.

THE WATERLESS WELL.


Golah expected to reach the watering-place early in the evening; and all
the caravan was excited by the anticipation of soon obtaining a
plentiful supply of water.

It was well they were inspired by this hope. But for that, long before
the sun had set, Sailor Bill and three or four others would have dropped
down in despair, physically unable to have moved any further. But the
prospect of plenty of water, to be found only a few miles ahead,
brought, at the same time, resolution, strength, and life. Faint and
feeble, they struggled on, nearly mad with the agony of nature's fierce
demands; and soon after sunset they succeeded in reaching the well.

It was dry!

Not a drop of the much desired element was shining in the cavity where
they had expected to find it.

Sailor Bill and some of the other slaves sank upon the earth, muttering
prayers for immediate death.

Golah was in a great rage with everything, and his wives, children,
slaves, and camels, that were most familiar with his moods, rushed here
and there to get out of his way.

Suddenly he seemed to decide on a course to be taken in this terrible
emergency, and his anger to some extent subsided.

Unbuckling the last goat-skin of water from one of the camels, he poured
out a small cup for each individual of the _kafila_. Each was then
served with a little _sangleh_ and a couple of dried figs.

All were now ordered to move on towards the west, Golah leading the way.
The new route was at right angles to the course they had been following
during the earlier part of the day.

Some of the slaves who declared that they were unable to go further,
found out, after receiving a few ticklings of the stick, that they had
been mistaken. The application of Golah's cudgel awakened dormant
energies of which they had not deemed themselves possessed.

After proceeding about two miles from the scene of their disappointment,
Golah suddenly stopped,--as he did so, giving to his followers some
orders in a low tone.

The camels were immediately brought into a circle, forced to kneel down,
while their lading was removed from them.

While this was going on, the white captives heard voices, and the
trampling of horses' hoofs.

The black sheik, with his highly educated ear, had detected the approach
of strangers. This had caused him to order the halt.

When the noises had approached a little nearer Golah called out in
Arabic: "Is it peace?"

"It is," was the answer; and as the strangers drew nearer, the
salutations of "Peace be with you!"--"Peace be with all here, and with
your friends!" were exchanged.

The caravan they had met consisted of between fifteen and twenty men,
some horses and camels; and the sheik who commanded it inquired of Golah
from whence he came.

"From the west," answered Golah, giving them to understand that he was
travelling the same way as themselves.

"Then why did you not keep on to the well?" was the next inquiry.

"It is too far away," answered Golah. "We are very weary."

"It is not far," said the chief, "not more than half a league. You had
better go on."

"No. I think it is more than two leagues, and we shall wait till
morning."

"_We_ shall not. I know the well is not far away, and we shall reach it
to-night."

"Very well," said Golah, "go, and may God be with you. But stay,
masters, have you a camel to sell?"

"Yes, a good one. It is a little fatigued now, but will be strong in the
morning."

Golah was aware that any camel they would sell him that night would be
one that could only move with much difficulty,--one that they despaired
of getting any further on the way. The black sheik knew his own business
best; and was willing they should think they had cheated him in the
bargain.

After wrangling for a few minutes, he succeeded in buying their
camel,--the price being a pair of blankets, a shirt, and the dirk that
had been taken from Terence. The camel had no cargo; and had for some
time been forced onward at considerable trouble to its owner.

The strangers soon took their departure, going off in the direction of
the dry well. As soon as they were out of sight Golah gave orders to
reload the animals, and resume the interrupted march. To excite the
slaves to a continuance of the journey, he promised that the camel he
had purchased should be slaughtered on the next morning for their
breakfast; and that they should have a long rest in the shade of the
tents during the following day.

This promise, undoubtedly, had the anticipated effect in revivifying
their failing energies, and they managed to move on until near daybreak,
when the camel lately purchased laid itself down, and philosophically
resisted every attempt at compelling it to continue the journey.

It was worn out with toil and hunger, and could not recover its feet.

The other animals were stopped and unladen, the tents were pitched, and
preparations made for resting throughout the day.

After some dry weeds had been collected for fuel, Golah proceeded to
fulfil his promise of giving them plenty of food.

A noose was made at the end of a rope, and placed around the camel's
lower jaw. Its head was then screwed about, as far as it would reach,
and the rope was made fast to the root of its tail,--the long neck of
the camel allowing its head to be brought within a few inches of the
place where the rope was tied.

Fatima, the favorite, stood by holding a copper kettle; while Golah
opened a vein on the side of the animal's neck near the breastbone. The
blood gushed forth in a stream; and before the camel had breathed its
last, the vessel held to catch it had become filled more than half full.

The kettle was then placed over the fire, and the blood boiled and
stirred with a stick until it had become as thick as porridge. It was
then taken off, and when it had cooled down, it resembled, both in color
and consistency, the liver of a fresh killed bullock.

This food was divided amongst the slaves, and was greedily devoured by
all.

The heart and liver of the camel, Golah ordered to be cooked for his own
family; and what little flesh was on the bones, was cut into strips, and
hung up in the sun to dry.

In one portion of the camel's stomach was about a gallon and a half of
water, thick and dirty with the vegetation it had last consumed; but all
was carefully poured into a goat's skin, and preserved for future use.

The intestines were also saved, and hung out in the sun to get cured by
drying, to be afterwards eaten by the slaves.

During the day Harry and Terence asked for an interview with Golah; and,
accompanied by the Krooman, were allowed to sit down by the door of his
tent while they conversed with him.

Harry instructed the Krooman to inform their master, that if they were
taken to some seaport, a higher ransom would be paid for them than any
price for which they could be sold elsewhere.

Golah's reply to this information was, that he doubted its truth; that
he did not like seaport towns; that his business lay away from the sea;
and that he was anxious to reach Timbuctoo as soon as possible. He
further stated, that if all his slaves were Christian dogs, who had
reached the country in ships, it might be worth his while to take them
to some port where they would be redeemed; but as the most of them were
of countries that did not pay ransoms for their subjects, there would be
no use in his carrying them to the coast,--where they might escape from
him, and he would then have had all his trouble for nothing.

He was next asked if he would not try to sell the white captives along
with the two Kroomen, to some slave dealer, who would take them to the
coast for a market.

Golah would not promise this. He said, that to do so, he should have to
sell them on the desert, where he could not obtain half their value.

The only information they were able to obtain from him was, that they
were quite certain of seeing that far-famed city, Timbuctoo,--that was
if they should prove strong enough to endure the hardships of the
journey.

After thanking Golah for his condescension in listening to their appeal,
the Krooman withdrew, followed by the others, who now for the first time
began to realize the horror of their position. A plentiful supply of
food, along with the day's rest, had caused all the white slaves to turn
their thoughts from the present to the future.

Harry Blount and Terence, after their interview with Golah, found Colin
and Sailor Bill anxiously awaiting their return.

"Well, what's the news?" asked Bill, as they drew near.

"Very bad," answered Terence. "There is no hope for us: we are going to
Timbuctoo."

"No, I'm no going there," said Bill, "if it was in another world I might
see the place soon enough, but in this, niver,--niver!"



CHAPTER XLIX.

THE WELL.


At an early hour next morning the caravan started on its journey, still
moving westward. This direction Golah was compelled to pursue to obtain
a supply of water, although it was taking him no nearer his destination.

Two days' journey was before them ere they could reach another well.
While performing it, Golah, vexed at the delay thus occasioned, was in
very ill-humor with things in general.

Some of his displeasure was vented upon the camel he was riding, and the
animal was usually driven far ahead of the others.

The sheik's wrath also fell upon his wives for lingering behind, and
then upon the slaves for not following closer upon the heels of his
camel. His son, and brother-in-law, would at intervals be solemnly
cursed in the name of the Prophet for not driving the slaves faster.

Before the well had been reached, the four white slaves were in a very
wretched condition. Their feet were blistered and roasted by the hot
sand, and as the clothing allowed them was insufficient protection
against the blazing sun, their necks and legs were inflamed and
bleeding.

The intestines and most of the flesh of the slaughtered camel had been
long ago consumed, as well as the filthy water taken from its stomach.

Colin had again established himself in the favor of the sheik's wife,
and was allowed to have the care of the child; but the little food and
drink he received for his attention to it were dearly earned.

The weight of the young negro was a serious incumbrance in a weary
journey through what seemed to be a burning plain; moreover the
"darkey," in keeping its seat on the young Scotchman's shoulders, had
pulled a quantity of hair out of his head, besides rendering his scalp
exceedingly irritable to further treatment of a like kind.

Hungry, thirsty, weak, lame, and weary, the wretched captives struggled
on until the well was reached.

On arriving within sight of a small hill on which were growing two or
three sickly bushes, Golah pointed towards it, at the same time turning
his face to those who were following him. All understood the signal, and
seemed suddenly inspired with hope and happiness. The travellers pressed
forward with awakened energy, and after passing over the hill came in
sight of the well at its foot.

The eagerness exhibited by the slaves to quench their thirst might have
been amusing to any others than those who beheld them; but their master
seemed intent on giving them a further lesson in the virtue of patience.

He first ordered the camels to be unladen, and the tents to be pitched.
While some were doing this, he directed others to seek for fuel.

Meanwhile, he amused himself by collecting all the dishes and
drinking-vessels, and placing them contiguous to the well.

He then attached a rope to a leathern bucket, and, drawing water from
the reservoir, he carefully filled the utensils, with the least possible
waste of the precious fluid his followers were so anxious to obtain.

When his arrangements were completed, he called his wives and children
around him. Then, serving out to each of them about a pint of the water,
and giving them a few seconds for swallowing it, he ordered them off.

Each obeyed without a murmur, all apparently satisfied.

The slaves were next called up, and then there was a rush in real
earnest. The vessels were eagerly seized, and their contents greedily
swallowed. They were presented for more, refilled, and again emptied.

The quantity of water swallowed by Sailor Bill and his three young
companions, and the rapacity with which it was gulped down, caused Golah
to declare that there was but one God, that Mahomet was his Prophet, and
that four of the slaves about him were Christian swine.

After all had satisfied the demands of nature, Golah showed them the
quantity of water he deemed sufficient for a thirsty individual by
drinking about a pint himself--not more than a fifth of the amount
consumed by each of his white slaves.

Long years of short allowance had accustomed the negro sheik to make
shift with a limited allowance of the precious commodity, and yet
continue strong and active.

About two hours after they had reached the well, and just as they had
finished watering the camels, another caravan arrived. Its leader was
hailed by Golah with the words, "Is it peace?"--the usual salutation
when strangers meet on the desert.

The answer was, "It is peace"; and the new comers dismounted, and
pitched their camp.

Next morning Golah had a long talk with their sheik, after which he
returned to his own tents in much apparent uneasiness.

The caravan newly arrived consisted of eleven men, with eight camels and
three Saäran horses. The men were all Arabs--none of them being slaves.
They were well armed, and carried no merchandise. They had lately come
from the northwest, for what purpose Golah knew not: since the account
the stranger sheik had given of himself was not satisfactory.

Though very short of provisions, Golah resolved not to leave the well
that day; and the Krooman learnt that this resolution was caused by his
fear of the strangers.

"If he is afraid of them," said Harry, "I should suppose that would make
him all the more anxious to get out of their company."

The Krooman, in explanation, stated that if the Arabs were
robbers--pirates of the desert--they would not molest Golah so long as
he remained at the well.

In this the Krooman was correct. Highway robbers do not waylay their
victims at an inn, but on the road. Pirates do not plunder ships in a
harbor, but out on the open ocean. Custom, founded on some good purpose,
has established a similar rule on the great sandy ocean of the Saära.

"I wish they were robbers, and would take us from Golah!" said Colin.
"We should then perhaps be carried to the north, where we might be
ransomed some time or other. As it is, if we are to be taken to
Timbuctoo, we shall never escape out of Africa."

"We shall not be taken there," cried Terence. "We shall turn robbers
ourselves first. I will for one; and when I do, Golah shall be robbed of
one of his slaves at least."

"An' that wan will be Misther Terence O'Connor, ov coorse?" said Bill.

"Yes."

"Thin ye will 'ave done no more than Master Colly, who has already
robbed 'im ov twa--the haffections ov 'is wife an' bairn."

"That will do, Bill," said Colin, who did not like hearing any allusion
made to the woman. "We have something else that should engage our
attention. Since we have learnt that they intend taking us to Timbuctoo,
it is time we began to act. We must not go there."

"That is understood," said Harry; "but what can we do? Something should
be done immediately. Every day we journey southward carries us farther
from home, or the chance of ever getting there. Perhaps these Arabs may
buy us, and take us north. Suppose we get the Krooman to speak to them?"

All consented to this course. The Krooman was called, and when informed
of their wishes he said that he must not be seen speaking to the Arabs,
or Golah would be displeased. He also stated--what the white captives
had already observed--that Golah and his son were keeping a sharp watch
over them, as well as over the strangers; and that an opportunity of
talking to the Arab sheik might not be easily obtained.

While he was still speaking, the latter was observed proceeding towards
the well to draw some water.

The Krooman instantly arose, and sauntered after.

He was observed by the quick eye of Golah, who called to him to come
away; which he did, but not before quenching his thirst, that did not
appear to be very great.

On the Krooman's return from the well, he informed Harry that he had
spoken to the Arab sheik. He had said, "Buy us. You will get plenty of
money for us in Swearah;" and that the reply of the sheik was, "The
white slaves are dogs, and not worth buying."

"Then we have no hope from that source!" exclaimed Terence.

The Krooman shook his head; not despondently, but as if he did not agree
in the opinion Terence had expressed.

"What! do you think there is any hope?" asked Harry.

The man gave a nod of assent.

"How? In what way?"

The Krooman vouchsafed no explanation, but sauntered silently away.

When the sun was within two or three hours of setting over the Saära,
the Arabs struck their tents, and started off in the direction of the
dry well--from whence Golah and his caravan had just come. After they
had disappeared behind the hill, Golah's son was sent to its top to
watch them, while his women and slaves were ordered to strike the tents
as quickly as possible.

Then waiting till the shades of night had descended over the desert, and
the strangers were beyond the reach of vision, Golah gave orders to
resume the march once more in a southeasterly direction--which would
carry them away from the seacoast--and, as the white slaves believed,
from all chances of their ever recovering their freedom.

The Krooman, on the contrary, appeared to be pleased at their taking
this direction, notwithstanding the objections he had expressed to going
inland.



CHAPTER L.

A MOMENTOUS INQUIRY.


During the night's journey Golah still seemed to have some fear of the
Arabs; and so great was his desire to place as much ground as possible
between himself and them, that he did not halt, until the sun was more
than two hours above the horizon.

For some time before a halt had been planned, Fatima, his favorite wife,
had been riding by his side, and making, what seemed, from the excited
movements of both, an important communication.

After the tents had been pitched, and food was about being served out,
Golah commanded the mother of the boy carried by Colin to produce the
bag of figs that had been intrusted to her keeping.

Trembling with apprehension, the woman rose to obey. The Krooman glanced
at the white captives with an expression of horror; and although they
had not understood Golah's command, they saw that something was going
wrong.

The woman produced the bag; which was not quite half full. There were in
it about two quarts of dried figs.

The figs that had been served out three days before at the dry well had
been taken from another bag kept in the custody of Fatima.

The one now produced by the second wife should have been full: and Golah
demanded to know why it was not.

The woman tremblingly asseverated that she and her children had eaten
them.

At this confession Fatima uttered a scornful laugh, and spoke a few
words that increased the terror of the delinquent mother,--at the same
time causing the boy to commence howling with affright.

"I tell you so," said the Krooman, who was standing near the white
slaves; "Fatima say to Golah, 'Christian dog eat the figs'; Golah kill
him now; he kill da woman too."

In the opinion of those who travel the great desert, about the greatest
crime that can be committed is to steal food or drink, and consume
either unknown to their companions of the journey.

Articles of food intrusted to the care of any one must be guarded and
preserved,--even at the expense of life.

Under no circumstances may a morsel be consumed, until it is produced in
the presence of all, and a division, either equitable or otherwise, has
been made.

Even had the story told by the woman been true, her crime would have
been considered sufficiently great to have endangered her life; but her
sin was greater than that.

She had bestowed favor upon a slave,--a Christian dog,--and had aroused
the jealousy of her Mahometan lord and master.

Fatima seemed happy; for nothing less than a miracle could, in her
opinion, save the life of her fellow-wife, who chanced to be a hated
rival.

After drawing his scimitar from its sheath, and cocking his musket,
Golah ordered all the slaves to squat themselves on the ground, and in a
row.

This order was quickly comprehended and obeyed,--the whites seating
themselves together at one end of the line.

Golah's son and the other guard--each with his musket loaded and
cocked--were stationed in front of the row: and were ordered by the
sheik to shoot any one who attempted to get up from the ground.

The monster then stepped up to Colin, and, seizing the young Scotchman
by the auburn locks, dragged him a few paces apart from his companions.
There, for a time, he was left alone.

Golah then proceeded to serve out some cheni to every individual on the
ground; but none was given to the woman who had aroused his anger, nor
to Colin.

In the sheik's opinion, to have offered them food would have been an act
as foolish as to have poured it upon the sands.

Food was intended to sustain life, and it was not designed by him that
they should live much longer. And yet it was evident from his manner
that he had not quite determined as to how they were to die.

The two guards, with the muskets in their grasp, kept a sharp eye on the
slaves, while Golah became engaged in a close consultation with Fatima.

"What shall we do?" asked Terence; "the old villain means mischief, and
how can we prevent it? We must not let him kill poor Colly?"

"We must do something immediately," said Harry. "We have neglected it
too long, and shall now have to act under the disadvantage of their
being prepared for an attack. Bill, what should we do?"

"I was just thinking," said Bill, "that if we all made a rush at 'em, at
the words _One--two--three!_ not more 'n two or three of us might be
killed afore we grappled with 'em. Now, this might do, if these black
fellows would only jine us."

The Krooman here expressed himself as one willing to take his chance in
any action they should propose, and believed that his countrymen would
do the same. He feared, however, that the other blacks could not be
trusted, and that any proposal he might make to them would be in a
language the two guards would understand.

"Well, then," said Harry, "there will be six of us against three. Shall
I give the word?"

"All right!" said Terence, drawing his feet under his body, by way of
preparation for rising suddenly.

The scheme was a desperate one, but all seemed willing to undertake it.

Since leaving the well, they had felt convinced that life and liberty
depended on their making a struggle; though circumstances seemed to have
forced that struggle upon them when there was the least hope of success.

"Now all make ready," muttered Harry, speaking in a calm voice, so as
not to excite the attention of the guards. "_One!_"

"Stop!" exclaimed Colin, who had been listening attentively to all that
was said. "I'm not with you. We should all be killed. Two or three would
be shot, and the sheik himself could finish all the rest with his
scimitar. It is better for him to kill me, if he really means to do so,
than to have all four destroyed in the vain hope of trying to save one."

"It is not for you alone that we are going to act," interposed Harry.
"It is as much for ourselves."

"Then act when there is a chance of succeeding," pursued Colin. "You
cannot save me, and will only lose your own lives."

"De big black sheik am going to kill someb'dy, dat berry sure," said the
Krooman, as he sat with his eyes fixed upon Golah.

The latter was still in consultation with Fatima, his face wearing an
expression that was horrible for all except herself to behold. Murder by
excruciating torture seemed written on every feature of his countenance.

The woman, upon whose manner of death they were deliberating, was in the
act of caressing her children, apparently conscious that she had but a
few minutes more to remain in their company. Her features wore an
expression of calm and hopeless resignation, as if she had yielded
herself up to the decree of an inevitable fate.

The third wife had retired a short distance from the others. With her
child in her arms, she sat upon the ground, contemplating the scene
before her with a look of mingled surprise, curiosity, and regret.

From the appearance of the whole caravan, a stranger could have divined
that some event of thrilling interest was about to transpire.

"Colin," cried Terence, encouragingly, "we won't sit here quietly, and
see you meet death. We had better do something while yet we have a
chance. Let Harry give the word."

"I tell you it's madness," expostulated Colin. "Wait till we see what he
intends doing. Perhaps he'll keep me a while for future vengeance, and
ye may have a chance of a rescue when there are not two men standing
over us ready to blow our brains out."

Colin's companions saw there was truth in this remark, and for a while
they waited in silence, with their eyes fixed upon the tent of the
sheik.

They had not long to wait, for, soon after, Golah came forth, having
finished his consultation with Fatima.

On his face appeared a hideous smile,--a smile that made most of those
who beheld it shudder with a sensation of horror.



CHAPTER LI.

A LIVING GRAVE.


Golah's first act after coming forth was to take some thongs from his
saddle. Having done this, he beckoned to the two who guarded the slaves,
giving them some admonition in an unknown tongue. The effect was to
excite their greater vigilance. The muzzles of their muskets were turned
towards the white captives, and they seemed anxiously waiting the order
to fire.

Golah then looked towards Terence, and made a sign for the young
Irishman to get up and come towards him.

Terence hesitated.

"Go on, Terry," muttered Colin "He don't mean _you_ any harm."

At this instant Fatima stepped out from the tent, armed with her
husband's scimitar, and apparently anxious for an opportunity of using
it.

Acting under the advice of the others, Terence sprang to his feet: and
advanced to the spot where the sheik was standing. The Krooman who spoke
English was then called up; and Golah, taking him and the midshipman
each by a hand, led them into his tent,--whither they were followed by
Fatima.

The sheik now addressed a few words to the Krooman, who then told
Terence that his life depended on perfect obedience to Golah's orders.
His hands were to be tied; and he must not call out so as to be heard by
the others.

"He say," said the Krooman, "if you no make fight, and no make noise, he
no kill you."

The man further counselled Terence to submit quietly,--saying that the
least resistance would lead to all the white slaves being killed.

Though possessing more than average strength and power for a youth of
his age, Terence knew that, in a strife with the gigantic black sheik,
he would not have the slightest chance of being victor.

Should he shout to his companions, and have them all act in concert,--as
they had already proposed?

No. Such an act would most likely lead to two of them being shot; to the
third having his brains knocked out with the butt-end of a musket; and
to the fourth,--himself,--being strangled in the powerful grasp of
Golah, if not beheaded with the scimitar in the hands of Fatima. On
reflection, the young Scotchman yielded, and permitted his hands to be
tied behind his back; so, too, did the Krooman.

Golah now stepped out of the tent: and immediately after returned,
leading Harry Blount along with him.

On reaching the opening, and seeing Terence and the Krooman lying bound
upon the floor, the young Englishman started back, and struggled to free
himself from the grasp of the hand that had hold of him. His efforts
only resulted in his being instantly flung to the earth, and fast held
by his powerful adversary, who at the same time was also employed in
protecting his victim from the fury of Fatima.

Terence, Harry, and the Krooman were now conducted back over the ground,
and placed in their former position in the row,--from which they had
been temporarily taken.

Sailor Bill and Colin were next treated in a similar fashion,--both
being fast bound like their companions.

"What does the ould divil mane?" asked Bill when Golah was tying his
hands together. "Will he murder us all?"

"No," answered the Krooman, "He no kill but one of your party."

His eyes turned upon Colin as he spoke.

"Colin! Colin!" exclaimed Harry; "see what you have done by opposing our
plan! We are all helpless now."

"And so much the better for yourselves," answered Colin. "You will now
suffer no further harm."

"If he means no harm, why has he bound us?" asked Bill. "It's a queer
way of showing friendship."

"Yes, but a safe one," answered Colin. "You cannot now bring yourselves
into danger by a foolish resistance to his will."

Terence and Harry understood Colin's meaning; and now, for the first
time, comprehended the reason why they had been bound.

It was to prevent them from interfering with Golah's plans for the
disposal of his two victims.

Now that the white slaves were secured, no danger was apprehended from
the others; and the two who had been guarding them, retired to the shade
of a tent to refresh themselves with a drink of cheni.

While the brief conversation above related was being held, Golah had
become busily engaged in overhauling the lading of one of his camels.

The object of his search was soon discovered: for, the moment after, he
came towards them carrying a long Moorish spade.

Two of the black slaves were then called from the line; the spade was
placed in the hands of one, and a wooden dish was given to the other.
They were then ordered to make a large hole in the sand,--to accomplish
which they at once set to work.

"They are digging a grave for me, or that of the poor woman,--perhaps
for both of us?" suggested Colin, as he calmly gazed on the spectacle.

His companions had no doubt but that it was as he had said; and sat
contemplating the scene in melancholy silence.

While the slaves were engaged in scooping up the hole, Golah called the
two guards, and gave them some orders about continuing the journey.

The blacks set about the work were but a few minutes in making an
excavation in the loose sand of some four feet in depth. They were then
directed to dig another.

"It's all over with me," said Colin; "he intends to kill two, and of
course I must be one of them."

"He _should_ kill us all," exclaimed Terence. "We deserve it for leaving
the well last night. We should have made an effort for our lives, while
we had the chance."

"You are right," replied Harry; "we _are_ fools, cowardly fools! We
deserve neither pity in this world nor happiness in the next. Colly, my
friend, if you meet with any harm, I swear to avenge it, whenever my
hands are free."

"And I'll be with you," added Terence.

"Never mind me, old comrades," answered Colin, who seemed less excited
than the others. "Do the best you can for yourselves, and you may some
time escape from this monster."

The attention of Harry was now attracted to Sailor Bill, who had turned
his back toward one of the black slaves sitting near him, and was by
signs entreating the man to untie his hand.

The man refused, evidently fearing the anger of Golah should he be
detected.

The second Krooman, who was unbound, now offered to loose the hands of
his countryman; but the latter seemed satisfied with his want of
freedom, and refused the proffered aid. He also feared death at the
hands of Golah.

If left to divine the ultimate intentions of the black sheik by the
knowledge of human nature they had acquired before falling into his
hands, the white captives would not have been seriously alarmed for the
welfare of any one of their number. But Golah was a specimen of natural
history new to them; and their apprehensions were excited to the highest
pitch by the conduct of those whom they knew to be better acquainted
with his character.

The behavior of the woman who had aroused his anger showed that she was
endeavoring to resign herself to some fearful mode of death. The wild
lamentations of her children denoted that they were conscious of some
impending misfortune.

Fatima seemed about to realize the fulfilment of some long-cherished
hope,--the hope of revenge on a detested rival.

The care Golah had taken to hinder any interference with his plans,--the
words of the Krooman, the looks and gestures of the guards and of Golah
himself, the digging of two graves in the sand,--all gave warning that
some fearful tragedy was about to be enacted. Our adventurers were
conscious of this, and conscious, also, that they could do nothing to
prevent it.

Nearly frantic with the helplessness of their position, they could only
wait--"trembling for the birth of Fate."



CHAPTER LII.

THE SHEIK'S PLAN OF REVENGE.


The second sand-pit was dug a short distance from the first; and when it
had been sunk to the depth of about four and a half feet, Golah
commanded the blacks to leave off their labor,--one of them being sent
back to the line to be seated along with his fellow-slaves.

By this time the tents had been struck, the camels loaded; and all but
Golah and Fatima appeared willing and anxious to depart from the spot.
These were not: for their business at that camping-place had not yet
been completed.

When the two guards had again resumed their former stations in front of
the line,--as before with their muskets at full cock,--Golah advanced
towards the woman, who, disengaging herself from her children, stood up
at his approach.

Then succeeded a moment of intense interest.

Was he going to kill her?

If so, in what manner?

All looked on with painful anticipation of some dire event.

It soon transpired. The woman was seized by Golah himself; dragged
towards the pits that had been dug; and thrust into one of them. The
slave who wielded the spade was then commanded to fill up the excavation
around her.

Terence was the first to speak.

"God help her!" he exclaimed; "the monster is going to bury her alive!
Can't we save her?"

"We are not men if we do not try!" exclaimed Harry, as he suddenly
sprang to his feet.

His example was immediately followed by his white companions.

The two muskets were instantly directed towards them; but at a shout
from Golah their muzzles were as quickly dropped.

The sheik's son then, at his father's command, ran to the pit to secure
the woman, while Golah himself rushed forward to meet the helpless men
who were advancing towards him.

In an instant the four were thrown prostrate to the earth.

With their hands tied, the powerful sheik upset them as easily as though
they had been bags of sand.

Raising Harry by the hair of his head with one hand and Terence with the
other, he dragged them back to their places in the line where they had
been already seated.

Sailor Bill saved himself from like treatment by rolling over and over
until he had regained his former place. Colin was allowed to lie on the
ground where the sheik had knocked him over.

Golah now returned to the pit where the woman stood half buried.

She made no resistance--she uttered no complaint--but seemed calmly to
resign herself to a fate that could not be averted. Golah apparently did
not intend to behold her die, for, when the earth was filled in around
her body, her head still remained above ground. She was to be starved to
death! As the sheik was turning away to attend to other matters, the
woman spoke. Her words were few, and produced no effect upon him. They
did, however, upon the Krooman, whose eyes were seen to fill with tears
that rapidly chased each other down his mahogany-colored cheeks.

Colin, who seemed to notice everything except the fate threatening
himself, observed the Krooman's excitement, and inquired its cause.

"She ask him to be kind to her little boy," said the man, in a voice
trembling with emotion.

Are tears unmanly?--No.

The shining drops that rolled from that man's eyes, and sparkled adown
his dusky cheeks, on hearing the unfortunate woman's prayer for her
children, proved that he was not a brute, but a man,--a man with a soul
that millions might envy.

After leaving the place where the woman was buried, Golah walked up to
Colin; and, dragging him to his feet, led him away to the other pit.

His intentions were now evident to all. The two individuals, who had
aroused his anger and jealousy, were to be left near each other, buried
alive, to perish in this fearful fashion.

"Colin! Colin! what can we do to save you?" exclaimed Harry, in a tone
expressing despair and anguish.

"Nothing," answered Colin; "don't attempt it, or you will only bring
trouble on yourselves. Leave me to my fate."

At this moment the speaker was thrown into the pit, and held in an
upright attitude by Golah, while the black slave proceeded to fill in
the earth around him.

Following the philosophical example set by the woman, Colin made no
useless resistance; and was soon submerged under the sand piled up to
his shoulders. His companions sat gazing with speechless horror, all
suffering the combined anguish of shame, regret, and despair.

The sheik was now ready to depart; and ordered the slave who had been
assisting him in his diabolical work to mount the camel formerly ridden
by the woman who was thus entombed. The black obeyed, pleased to think
that his late task was to be so agreeably rewarded; but a sudden change
came over his features when Golah and Fatima passed up the three
children, and placed them under his care.

Golah had but one more act to perform before leaving the spot. It was an
act worthy of himself, although suggested by Fatima.

After filling a bowl about half full of water, he placed it midway
between Colin and the woman, but so distant from each that neither could
possibly reach it!

This Satanic idea was executed with the design of tantalizing the
sufferers in their dying hours with the sight of that element the want
of which would soon cause them the most acute anguish. By the side of
the bowl he also placed a handful of figs.

"There," he tauntingly exclaimed; "I leave you two together, and with
more food and drink than you will ever consume. Am I not kind? What more
can you ask? _Bismillah!_ God is great, and Mahomet is his prophet; and
I am Golah, the kind, the just!"

Saying this, he gave orders to resume the march.

"Don't move!" exclaimed Terence; "we will give him some trouble yet."

"Of course we'll not go, and leave Colin there," said Harry. "The sheik
is too avaricious to kill all his slaves. Don't move a step, Bill, and
we may have Colly liberated yet."

"I shall do as you say, ov coorse," said Bill; "but I expect we shall
'ave to go. Golah has got a way of making a man travel, whether he be
willing or not."

All started forward from the place but the three white slaves and the
two whom Golah intended to remain.

"Cheer up, lad," said Bill to Colin; "we'll never go, and leave you
there."

"Go on, go on!" exclaimed Colin. "You can do me no good, and will only
injure yourselves."

Golah had mounted his camel and ridden forward, leaving to his two
guards the task of driving on the slaves; and, as if apprehensive of
trouble from them, he had directed Terence, Harry, Bill, and the Krooman
to be brought on with their hands tied behind them.

The three refused to move; and when all efforts to get them on had been
tried in vain, the guards made a loud appeal to their sheik.

Golah came riding back in a great rage.

Dismounting from his camel he drew the ramrod from his musket; then,
rushing up to Terence, who was the nearest to him, administered to him a
shower of blows that changed the color of his shirt from an untidy white
to the darker hue of blood.

The two guards, following the example of their lord and master,
commenced beating Harry and Bill, who, unable to make any resistance,
had to endure the torture in silence.

"Go on, my friends!" exclaimed Colin; "for God's sake, go, and leave me!
You cannot do anything to avert my fate!"

Colin's entreaties, as well as the torture from the blows they received,
were alike without effect. His shipmates could not bring themselves to
desert their old comrade, and leave him to the terrible death that
threatened him.

Rushing up to Bill and Harry, Golah caught hold of each, and hurled them
to the ground by the side of Terence. Keeping all three together, he now
ordered a camel to be led up; and the order was instantly obeyed by one
of the guards. The halter was then taken from the head of the animal.

"We 'ave got to go now," said Bill. "He's going to try the same dodge as
beat me the other day. I shall save him the trouble."

Bill tried to rise, but was prevented. He had refused to walk when
earnestly urged to do so; and now, when he was willing to go on, he had
to wait the pleasure of his owner as to the manner in which his journey
should be continued.

While Golah was fastening the rope to Harry's hands, the sharp shrill
voice of Fatima called his attention to some of the people who had gone
on before.

The two women, who led the camels loaded with articles taken from the
wreck, had advanced about three hundred yards from the place; and were
now, along with the black slaves, surrounded by a party of men mounted
on maherries and horses.



CHAPTER LIII.

CAPTURED AGAIN.


Golah's fear of the Arabs met by the well had not been without a cause.
His forced night march, to avoid meeting them again, had not secured the
object for which it had been made.

Approaching from the direction of the rising sun, the Arabs had not been
discovered in the distance; and Golah, occupied in overcoming the
obstinate resistance of the white slaves, had allowed them to come quite
near before they had been observed by him.

Leaving his captives, the sheik seized his musket; and, followed by his
son and brother-in-law, rushed forward to protect his wives and
property.

He was too late. Before he could reach them they were in the possession
of others; and as he drew near the spot where they had been captured, he
saw a dozen muskets presented towards himself, and heard some one loudly
commanding him, in the name of the Prophet, to approach in peace!

Golah had the discretion to yield to a destiny that could not be
averted,--the misfortune of being made a prisoner and plundered at the
same time.

Calmly saying, "It is the will of God," he sat down, and invited his
captors to a conference on the terms of capitulation.

As soon as the caravan had fallen into the possession of the robbers,
the Krooman's hands were unbound by his companion, and he hastened to
the relief of the white slaves.

"Golah no our massa now," said he, while untying Harry's wrists; "our
massa is Arab dat take us norf. We get free. Dat why dis Arab no buy
us,--he know us he hab for noting."

The cords were quickly untied, and the attention of the others was now
turned to disinterring Colin and the woman from their living graves.

To do this, Harry wanted to use the water-bowl the sheik had left for
the purpose of tantalizing his victims with the sight of its contents.

"Here, drink this water," said he, holding the vessel to Colin's lips.
"I want to make use of the dish."

"No, no; dig me out without that," answered Colin. "Leave the water as
it is; I have a particular use for it when I get free. I wish the old
sheik to see me drink it."

Bill, Harry, and the Krooman set to work: and Colin and the woman were
soon uncovered and dragged out. Terence was then awakened to
consciousness by a few drops of the water poured over his face.

Owing to the cramped position in which he had been placed and so long
held, Colin was for a few minutes unable to walk. They waited, to give
him time to recover the use of his limbs. The slave who had the care of
the woman's children was now seen coming back with them, and the woman
ran to meet him.

The delight of the wretched mother at again embracing her offspring was
so great, that the gentle-souled Krooman was once more affected to
tears.

In the conference with the Arab robbers, Golah was unable to obtain the
terms he fancied a sheik should be entitled to.

They offered him two camels and the choice of one wife out of the three,
on condition he should go back to his own country, and return to the
desert no more.

These terms Golah indignantly refused, and declared that he would rather
die in defence of his rights.

Golah was a pure negro, and one of a class of traders much disliked by
the Arabs. He was a lawless intruder on their grounds,--a trespasser
upon their special domain, the Great Desert. He had just acquired a
large amount of wealth in goods and slaves, that had been cast on their
coast; and these they were determined he should not carry back with him
to his own country.

Though he was as much a robber as themselves, they had no sympathies
with him, and would not be satisfied with merely a share of his plunder.
They professed to understand all his doings in the past; and accused him
of not being a _fair trader_!

They told him that he never came upon the desert with merchandise to
exchange, but only with camels, to be driven away, laden with property
justly belonging to them, the real owners of the land.

They denied his being a true believer in the Prophet; and concluded
their talk by declaring that he should be thankful for the liberal terms
they had offered him.

Golah's opposition to their proposal became so demonstrative, that the
Arabs were obliged to disarm and bind him; though this was not
accomplished without a fierce struggle, in which several of his
adversaries were overthrown.

A blow on the head with the stock of a musket at length reduced him to
subjection, after which his hands were fast tied behind his back.

During the struggle, Golah's son was prevented from interfering in
behalf of his father, by the black slaves who had been so long the
victims of his cruel care; while the brother-in-law, as well as Fatima
and the third wife, remained passive spectators of the scene.

On Golah being secured, the white slaves, with old Bill at their head,
came up and voluntarily surrendered themselves to their new masters.

Colin had in his hands the bowl of water, and the dried figs that had
been placed beside it.

Advancing towards Golah, he held the figs up before his eyes, and then,
with a nod and an expression that seemed to say, "Thank you for this,"
he raised the bowl to his lips with the intention of drinking.

The expression on the sheik's features became Satanic, but suddenly
changed into a glance of pleasure, as one of the Arabs snatched the
vessel out of Colin's hands, and instantly drank off its contents.

Colin received the lesson meekly, and said not a word.

The Arabs speedily commenced making arrangements for leaving the place.
The first move was to establish a communication between Golah and the
saddle of one of his camels.

This was accomplished by using a rope as a medium; and the black giant
was compelled to walk after the animal with his hands tied behind
him,--in the same fashion as he had lately set for Sailor Bill.

His wives and slaves seemed to comprehend the change in their fortunes,
and readily adapted their conduct to the circumstances.

The greatest transformation of all was observable in the behavior of the
favorite Fatima.

Since his capture she had kept altogether aloof from her late lord, and
showed not the slightest sympathy for his misfortunes.

By her actions she seemed to say: "The mighty Golah has fallen, and is
no longer worthy of my distinguished regard."

Very different was the behavior of the woman whom the cruel sheik would
have left to die a lingering death. Her husband's misfortune seemed to
have awakened within her a love for the father of her children: and her
features, as she gazed upon the captive,--who, although defeated, was
unsubdued in spirit,--wore a mingled expression of pity and grief.

Hungry, thirsty, weary and bleeding--enslaved on the Great Desert, still
uncertain of what was to be their fate, and doubtful of surviving much
longer the hardships they might be forced to endure--our adventurers
were far from being happy; but, with all their misery, they felt joyful
when comparing their present prospects with those before them but an
hour ago.

With the exception of Golah, the Arabs had no trouble with their
captives. The white and black slaves knew they were travelling towards
the well; and the prospect of again having plenty of water was
sufficient inducement to make them put forth all their strength in
following the camels.

Early in the evening a short halt was made; when each of the company was
served with about half a pint of water from the skins. The Arabs,
expecting to reach the well soon after, could afford to be thus liberal;
but the favor so granted, though thankfully received by the slaves was
scornfully refused by their late master--the giant bodied and
strong-minded Golah.

To accept of food and drink from his enemies in his present humiliating
position--bound and dragged along like a slave--was a degradation to
which he scorned to submit.

On Golah contemptuously refusing the proffered cup of water, the Arab
who offered it simply ejaculated, "Thank God!" and then drank it
himself.

The well was reached about an hour after midnight; and after quenching
their thirst, the slaves were allowed to go to rest and sleep,--a
privilege they stood sorely in need of having been over thirty hours
afoot, upon their cheerless and arduous journey.



CHAPTER LIV.

AN UNFAITHFUL WIFE.


On waking up the next morning, our adventurers were gratified with a bit
of intelligence communicated by the Krooman: that they were to have a
day of rest. A camel was also to be killed for food.

The Arabs were going to divide amongst themselves the slaves taken from
Golah; and the opportunity was not to be lost of recruiting their
strength for a long journey.

As Sailor Bill reflected upon their sufferings since leaving that same
place two days before, he expressed regret that they had not been
captured before leaving the well, and thus spared the horrors they had
endured.

Stimulated by the remembrance of so much suffering needlessly incurred,
he asked the Krooman to explain the conduct of their new masters.

The Krooman's first attempt at satisfying his curiosity was to state,
that the Arabs had acted after a manner peculiar to themselves,--in
other words, that it was "a way they had."

The old sailor was not satisfied with this answer; and pressed for a
further explanation.

He was then told that the robbers on the desert were always in danger of
meeting several caravans at a watering-place; and that any act of
violence committed there would bring upon the perpetrators everlasting
disgrace, as well as the enmity of all desert travellers. The Krooman
explained himself by saying, that should a caravan of a hundred men
arrive at the well, they would not now interfere in behalf of Golah, but
would only recognize him as a slave. On the contrary, had they found him
engaged in actual strife with the robbers they would have assisted him.

This was satisfactory to all but Bill. Even Colin, who had been buried
alive, and Terence, who had been so unmercifully beaten, were pleased at
their change of masters on any terms; but the old sailor, sailor-like,
would not have been himself without some cause of complaint.

Before their newly acquired wealth could be divided, the Arabs had to
come to some resolution as to the disposal of the black sheik; who still
remained so unmanageable that he had to be kept bound, with a guard
placed over him.

The Arabs could not agree amongst themselves as to what should be done
with him. Some of them urged that, despite the color of his skin, he
might be a true believer in the Prophet; and that, notwithstanding his
manner of trading and acquiring wealth--a system nearly as dishonest as
their own--he was entitled to his liberty, with a certain portion of his
property.

Others claimed that they had a perfect right to add him and his large
family to the number of their slaves.

He was not an Arab, but an Ethiopian, like most of his following; and,
as a slave, would bring a high price in any of the markets where men
were bought and sold.

Those who argued thus were in the minority; and Golah was at length
offered his wives and their children, with a couple of camels and his
scimitar.

This offer the black sheik indignantly refused,--much to the
astonishment of those who had been so eloquent in his behalf.

His decision produced another debate; in which the opinions of several
of his captors underwent such a change, that it was finally determined
to consider him as one of the slaves.

Every article that had been obtained from the wreck was now exposed to
view, and a fixed price set upon it.

The slaves were carefully examined and valued,--as well as the camels,
muskets, and everything that had belonged to Golah or his dependants.

When these preliminary arrangements had been completed, the Arabs
proceeded to an equitable partition of the property.

This proved a very difficult matter to manage, and occupied their time
for the rest of the day. Three or four would covet the same article; and
long and noisy discussions would take place before the dispute could be
settled to their mutual satisfaction.

The Krooman, who understood the desert language, was attentive to all
that transpired; and from time to time informed the white slaves of what
was being done.

At an early period in the discussions, he discovered that each of the
four was to fall to different masters.

"You and me," said he to Harry, "we no got two massas--only one."

His words were soon after proved to be true. They were carried apart
from each other, evidently with the designs of being appropriated by
different owners; and the fear that they might also be separated again
came over them.

When the slaves, camels, tents, and articles that had been gathered from
the wreck were distributed amongst the eleven Arabs, each one took the
charge of his own; but there still remained Golah, his wives and their
children, to be disposed of.

No one seemed desirous of becoming the owner of the black sheik and his
wives. Even those who had said that he would make a valuable slave,
appeared unwilling to take him, although induced to do so by the taunts
of their companions.

The fact was, that they were afraid of him. He would be too difficult to
manage; and none of them wished to be the master of one who obstinately
refused both food and drink, and who so defiantly invoked upon the heads
of his captors the curse of Mahomet, and swore by the beard of the
Prophet that the moment his hands were free, he would kill the man who
should dare to own or claim him as a slave.

Golah, with all his faults, was neither cunning nor deceitful, and,
having a spirit too great to affect submission, he did not intend to
yield.

He was arrogant, cruel, avaricious, and vindictive; but the wrongs he
did were always accomplished in a plain, open-handed way, and never by
stratagem or treachery.

By accepting the terms the Arabs had offered him, his strength, courage,
and unconquerable will might afterwards have enabled him to obtain
revenge upon his captors, and regain a portion of his property; but it
was not in his nature to sham submission, even for the sake of gaining a
future advantage.

As not one of the Arabs was willing to accept of him, at the value at
which he had been appraised, or to allow another to have him for less,
it was finally decided that he should be retained as the common property
of all, until he could be sold to some other tribe, when a distribution
might be made of the proceeds of the sale. His wives and children were
to be disposed of in like manner.

This arrangement was satisfactory to all but Golah himself, who
expressed himself greatly displeased with it. Nevertheless, he seemed a
little disposed to yield to circumstances; for, soon after the decision
of his captors was made known to him, he called to Fatima, and commanded
her to bring him a bowl of water.

The favorite refused, under the plea that she had been forbidden to give
him anything.

This was true; for, as he had declined to accept of anything at the
hands of those claiming to be his masters, they had determined to starve
him into submission.

Fatima's refusal to obey him caused Golah his greatest chagrin. Ever
accustomed to prompt and slavish obedience from others, the idea of his
own wife--his favorite too--denying his modest request, almost drove him
frantic.

"I am your husband," he cried, "and whom should you obey but me? Fatima!
I command you to bring me some water!"

"And I command you not to do it," said the Arab sheik, who, standing
near by, had heard the order.

Fatima was an artful, selfish woman, who had gained some influence over
her husband by flattering his vanity, and professing a love she had
never felt.

She had acted with slavish obedience to him when he was all-powerful;
but now that he was himself a slave, her submission had been transferred
with perfect facility to the chief of the band who had captured him.

It was now that Golah began to realize the fact that he was a conquered
man.

His heart was nearly bursting with rage, shame, and disappointment; for
nothing could so plainly awaken him to the comprehension of his real
position, as the fact that Fatima, his favorite, she who had ever
professed for him so much love and obedience, now refused to attend to
his simplest request.

After making one more violent and ineffectual effort at breaking his
bonds, he sank down upon the earth and remained silent--bitterly
contemplating the degraded condition into which he had fallen.

The Krooman, who was a very sharp observer of passing events, and had an
extensive knowledge of peculiar specimens of human nature, closely
watched the behavior of the black sheik.

"He no like us," he remarked to the whites. "He nebba be slave. Bom-by
you see him go dead."



CHAPTER LV.

TWO FAITHFUL WIVES.


While Golah's mind appeared to be stunned almost to unconsciousness by
the refusal of Fatima to obey his orders, his other two wives were
moving about, as if engaged in some domestic duty.

Presently the woman he had buried in the sand was seen going towards him
with a calabash of water, followed by the other who carried a dish of
_sangleh_.

One of the Arabs perceiving their intention, ran up, and, in an angry
tone, commanded them to retire to their tents. The two women persisted
in their design, and in order to prevent them, without using violence,
the Arab offered to serve the food and drink himself.

This they permitted him to do; but when the water was offered to Golah
it was again refused.

The black sheik would not receive either food or drink from the hand of
a master.

The _sangleh_ was then consumed by the Arab with a real or sham
profession of gratitude; the water was poured into a bucket, and given
to one of the camels; and the two calabashes were returned to the women.

Neither a keen longing for food, nor a burning thirst for water, could
divert Golah's thoughts from the contemplation of something that was
causing his soul extreme anguish.

His physical tortures seemed, for the time, extinguished by some deep
mental agony.

Again the wives--the unloved ones--advanced towards him, bearing water
and food; and again the Arab stepped forward to intercept them. The two
women persisted in their design, and, while opposing the efforts of the
Arab to turn them back, they called on the two youths, the relatives of
the black sheik, as also on Fatima, to assist them.

Of the three persons thus appealed to, only Golah's son obeyed their
summons; but his attempt to aid the women was immediately frustrated by
the Arab, who claimed him as a slave, and who now commanded him to stand
aside. His command having no effect, the Arab proceeded to use force. At
the risk of his life the youth resisted. He dared to use violence
against a master--a crime that on the desert demands the punishment of
death.

Aroused from his painful reverie by the commotion going on around him,
Golah, seeing the folly of the act, shouted to his son to be calm, and
yield obedience; but the youth, not heeding the command of his father,
continued his resistance. He was just on the point of being cut down,
when the Krooman ran forward, and pronouncing in Arabic two words
signifying "father and son," saved the youth's life. The Arab robber had
sufficient respect for the relationship to stay his hand from committing
murder; but to prevent any further trouble with the young fellow, he was
seized by several others, fast bound, and flung to the ground by the
side of his father.

The two women, still persisting in their design to relieve the wants of
their unfortunate husband, were then knocked down, kicked, beaten, and
finally dragged inside the tents.

This scene was witnessed by Fatima; who, instead of showing sympathy,
appeared highly amused by it,--so much so as even to give way to
laughter! Her unnatural behavior once more roused the indignation of her
husband.

The wrong of being robbed--the humiliation of being bound--the knowledge
that he himself, along with his children, would be sold into
slavery--the torture of hunger and thirst--were sources of misery no
longer heeded by him; all were forgotten in the contemplation of a far
greater anguish.

Fatima, the favorite, the woman to whom his word should have been
law,--the woman who had always pretended to think him something more
than mortal,--now not only shunning but despising him in the midst of
his misfortunes!

This knowledge did more towards subduing the giant than all his other
sufferings combined.

"Old Golah looks very down in the mouth," remarked Terence to his
companions. "If it was not for the beating he gave me yesterday, I could
almost pity him. I made an oath, at the time he was thwacking me with
the ramrod, that if my hands were ever again at liberty, I'd see if it
was possible to kill him; but now that they are free, and his are bound,
I've not the heart to touch him, bad as he is."

"That is right, Terry," said Bill; "it's only wimin an' bits o' boys as
throws wather on a drowned rat,--not as I mane to say the owld rascal is
past mischief yet. I believe he'll do some more afore the Devil takes
'im intirely; but I mane that Him as sits up aloft is able to do His own
work without your helping Him."

"You speak truth, Bill," said Harry; "I don't think there is any
necessity for seeking revenge of Golah for his cruel treatment of us; he
is now as ill off as the rest of us."

"What is that you say?" inquired Colin. "Golah like one of us? Nothing
of the kind. He has more pluck, endurance, obstinacy, and true manly
spirit about him than there is in the four of us combined."

"Was his attempt to starve you dictated by a manly spirit?" asked Harry.

"Perhaps not, but it was the fault of the circumstances under which he
has been educated. I don't think of that now; my admiration of the man
is too strong. Look at his refusing that drink of water when it had been
several times offered him!"

"There is something wonderful about him, certainly," assented Harry;
"but I don't see anything in him to admire."

"No more do I," said Bill. "He might be as comfortable now as we are;
and I say a man's a fool as won't be 'appy when he can."

"What you call his folly," rejoined Colin, "is but a noble pride that
makes him superior to any of us. He has a spirit that will not submit to
slavery, and we have not."

"That be truth," remarked the Krooman; "Golah nebbar be slave."

Colin was right. By accepting food and drink from his captors, the black
sheik might have satisfied the demands of mere animal nature, but only
at the sacrifice of all that was noble in his nature. His self-respect,
along with the proud, unyielding spirit by which everything good and
great is accomplished, would have been gone from him for ever.

Sailor Bill and his companions, the boy slaves, had been taught from
childhood to yield to circumstances, and still retain some moral
feeling; but Golah had not.

The only thing he could yield to adverse fate was _his life_.

At this moment the Krooman, by a gesture, called their attention towards
the captive sheik, at the same time giving utterance to a sharp
ejaculation.

"Look!" exclaimed he, "Golah no stay longer on de Saära. You him see
soon die now--look at him!"

At the same instant Golah had risen to his feet, inviting his Arab
master to a conference.

"There is but one God," said he, "Mahomet is his prophet; and I am his
servant. I will never be a slave. Give me one wife, a camel, and my
scimitar, and I will go. I have been robbed; but God is great, and it is
his will, and my destiny."

Golah had at length yielded, though not because that he suffered for
food and water; not that he feared slavery or death; not that his proud
spirit had become weak or given way; but rather that it had grown
stronger under the prompting of _Revenge_.

The Arab sheik conferred with his followers; and there arose a brief
controversy among them.

The trouble they had with their gigantic captive, the difficulty they
anticipated in disposing of him, and their belief that he was a good
Mussulman, were arguments in favor of granting his request, and setting
him at liberty.

It was therefore decided to let him go--on the condition of his taking
his departure at once.

Golah consented; and they proceeded to untie his hands. While this was
being done, the Krooman ran up to Colin's master, and cautioned him to
protect his slave, until the sheik had departed.

This warning was unnecessary, for Golah had other and more serious
thoughts to engage his mind than that of any animosity he might once
have felt against the young Scotchman.

"I am free," said Golah, when his hands were untied. "We are equals, and
Mussulmen. I claim your hospitality. Give me some food and drink."

He then stepped forward to the well, and quenched his thirst, after
which some boiled camel meat was placed before him.

While he was appeasing an appetite that had been two days in gaining
strength, Fatima, who had observed a strange expression in his eyes,
appeared to be in great consternation. She had believed him doomed to a
life of slavery, if not to death; and this belief had influenced her in
her late actions.

Gliding up to the Arab sheik, she entreated to be separated from her
husband; but the only answer she received was, that Golah should have
either of the three wives he chose to take; that he (the sheik) and his
companions were men of honor, who would not break the promise they had
given.

A goat-skin of water, some barley meal, for making _sangleh_, and a few
other necessary articles, were placed on a camel, which was delivered
over to Golah.

The black sheik then addressed a few words in some African language to
his son; and, calling Fatima to follow him, he started off across the
desert.



CHAPTER LVI.

FATIMA'S FATE.


A complete change had come over the fortunes of Fatima. Vain, cruel, and
tyrannical but the moment before, she was now humbled to the dust of the
desert. In place of commanding her fellow wives, she now approached them
with entreaties, begging them to take charge of her child, which she
seemed determined to leave behind her. Both willingly assented to her
wishes.

Our adventurers were puzzled by this circumstance, for there appeared to
be no reason that Fatima should leave her offspring behind her. Even the
Krooman could not explain it; and as the shades of night descended over
the desert, the mother separated from her child, perhaps never more to
embrace it in this world of wickedness and woe.

About two hours before daybreak, on the morning after the departure of
Golah, there was an alarm in the douar, which created amongst the Arabs
a wonderful excitement.

The man who had been keeping guard over the camp was not to be seen; and
one of the fleetest camels, as well as a swift desert horse, was also
gone.

The slaves were instantly mustered, when it was found that one of them
was likewise missing. It was Golah's son.

His absence accounted for the loss of the camel, and perhaps the horse,
but what had become of the Arab guard?

He certainly would not have absconded with the slave, for he had left
valuable property behind him.

There was no time for exchanging surmises over this mystery. Pursuit
must be instantly made for the recovery of slave, camel, and horse.

The Arab sheik detailed four of his followers to this duty, and they
hastened to make ready for their departure. They would start as soon as
the light of day should enable them to see the course the missing
animals had taken.

All believed that the fugitives would have to be sought for in a
southerly direction; and therefore the caravan would have to be further
delayed in its journey.

While making preparations for the pursuit, another unpleasant discovery
was made. Two ship's muskets, that had been taken from Golah's party
were also missing.

They had been extracted from a tent in which two of the Arabs had
slept,--two of the four who were now preparing to search for the missing
property.

The sheik became alarmed. The camp seemed full of traitors; and yet, as
the guns were the private property of the two men who slept in the tent,
they could not, for losing them, reasonably be accused of anything more
than stupidity.

Contrary to the anticipations of all, the tracks of the lost animals
were found to lead off in a north-westerly direction; and at about two
hundred yards from the camp a dark object was seen lying upon the
ground. On examination it proved to be the Arab who had been appointed
night-guard over the douar.

He was stone dead; and by his side lay one of the missing muskets, with
the stock broken, and covered with his own brains.

The tragedy was not difficult to be explained. The man had seen one or
two of the hoppled animals straying from the camp. Not thinking that
they were being led gently away, he had, without giving any alarm, gone
out to bring them back. Golah's son, who was leading them off, by
keeping concealed behind one of the animals, had found an opportunity of
giving the guard his death-blow, without any noise to disturb the
slumbering denizens of the douar.

No doubt he had gone to rejoin his father, and the adroit manner in
which he had made his departure, taking with him a musket, a camel, and
a horse, not only excited the wonder, but the admiration of those from
whom he had stolen them.

In the division of the slaves, young Harry Blount and the Krooman had
become the property of the Arab sheik. The Krooman having some knowledge
of the Arabic language, soon established himself in the good opinion of
his new master. While the Arabs were discussing the most available mode
to obtain revenge for the murder of their companion, as well as to
regain possession of the property they had lost, the Krooman, skilled in
Golah's character, volunteered to assist them by a little advice.

Pointing to the south, he suggested to them that, by going in that
direction, they would certainly see or hear something of Golah and his
son.

The sheik could the more readily believe this, since the country of the
black chief lay to the southward, and Golah, on leaving the douar, had
gone in that direction.

"But why did his dog of a son not go south?" inquired the Arabs,
pointing to the tracks of the stolen horse, which still appeared to lead
towards the northwest.

"If you go north," replied the Krooman, "you will be sure to see Golah;
or if you stay here, you will learn something of him?"

"What! will he be in both directions at the same time, and here
likewise?"

"No, not that; but he will follow you."

The Arabs were willing to believe that there was a chance of recovering
their property on the road they had been intending to follow, especially
as the stolen horse and camel had been taken in that direction.

They determined, therefore, to continue their journey.

Too late they perceived their folly in treating Golah as they had done.
He was now beyond their reach, and, in all likelihood, had been rejoined
by his son. He was an enemy against whom they would have to keep a
constant watch; and the thought of this caused the old Arab sheik to
swear by the Prophet's beard that he would never again show mercy to a
man whom he had plundered.

For about an hour after resuming their march, the footprints of the
camel could be traced in the direction they wished to go; but gradually
they became less perceptible, until at length they were lost altogether.
A smart breeze had been blowing, which had filled the tracks with sand,
which was light and easily disturbed.

Trusting to chance, and still with some hope of recovering the stolen
property, they continued on in the same direction, and, not long after
losing the tracks, they found some fresh evidence that they were going
the right way.

The old sheik, who was riding in advance of the others, on looking to
the right, perceived an object on the sand that demanded a closer
inspection. He turned and rode towards it, closely followed by the
people of his party.

On drawing near to the object it proved to be the body of a human being,
lying back upwards, and yet with the face turned full towards the
heavens. The features were at once recognized as those of Fatima, the
favorite!

The head of the unfortunate woman had been severed from her body, and
then placed contiguous to it, with the face in an inverted position.

The ghastly spectacle was instructive. It proved that Golah, although
going off southward, must have turned back again, and was now not far
off, hovering about the track he believed his enemies would be likely to
take. His son, moreover, was, in all likelihood, along with him.

When departing along with her husband, Fatima had probably anticipated
the terrible fate that awaited her; and, for that reason, had left her
child in the care of the other wives.

Neither of these seemed in the least surprised on discovering the body.
Both had surmised that such would be Fatima's fate; and it was for that
reason they had so willingly taken charge of her child.

The caravan made a short halt, which was taken advantage of by the two
women to cover the body with sand.

The journey was then resumed.



CHAPTER LVII.

FURTHER DEFECTION.


Notwithstanding that Golah's brother-in-law, who had formerly been a
freeman, was now a slave, he seemed well satisfied with the change in
his circumstances.

He made himself very useful to his new masters in looking after the
camel, and doing all the other necessary work which his knowledge of
Saäran life enabled him effectually to execute.

When the Arab caravan came to a halt on the evening of his first day's
journey along with it, he assisted in unloading the camels, putting the
hopples on them, pitching the tents, and doing anything else which was
required to be done.

While the other slaves were eating the small portion of food allowed
them, one of the camels formerly belonging to Golah--a young and fleet
maherry that had been ridden by Fatima, strayed a short distance from
the douar. Seeing it the black sheik's brother-in-law, who had been
making himself so useful, ran after the animal as if to fetch it back.
He was seen passing beyond the camel, as though he intended turning it
toward the camp; but in another instant it was discovered that he had no
such design. The youth was seen to spring to the back of the maherry,
lay hold of its hump, and ride rapidly away. Accustomed to hearing the
sound of his voice, the faithful and intelligent animal obeyed his words
of command. Its neck was suddenly craned out towards the north; and its
feet were flung forward in long strides that bore its rider rapidly away
from the rest. The incident caused a tremendous commotion in the
caravan. It was so wholly unexpected, that none of the Arabs were
prepared to intercept the fugitive. The guard for the night had not been
appointed. They were all seated on the ground, engaged in devouring
their evening repast, and before a musket could be discharged at the
runaway, he had got so far into the glimmering twilight that the only
effect of two or three shots fired after him was to quicken the pace of
the maherry on which he was fleeing.

Two fleet horses were instantly saddled and mounted, one by the owner of
the camel that had been stolen, and the other by the owner of the slave
who had stolen it.

Each, arming himself with musket and scimitar, felt sure of recapturing
the runaway. Their only doubt arose from the knowledge of the swiftness
of the maherry, and that its rider was favored by the approaching
darkness.

The whole encampment was by this time under arms and after the departure
of the pursuers, the sheik gathered all the slaves together, and swore
by the beard of the Prophet that they should all be killed, and that he
would set the example by killing the two belonging to himself, which
were Harry Blount and the Krooman. Several of his followers proceeded to
relieve their excitement by each beating the slave or slaves that were
his own property, and amongst these irate slave-owners was the master of
Sailor Bill. The old man-o-war's-man was cudgelled till his objections
to involuntary servitude were loudly expressed, and in the strongest
terms that English, Scotch, and Irish could furnish for the purpose.

When the rage of the old sheik had to some extent subsided, he procured
a leathern thong, and declared that his two slaves should be fast bound,
and never released as long as they remained in his possession.

"Talk to him," exclaimed Harry to the Krooman; "tell him, in his own
language, that God is great, and that he is a fool! We don't wish to
escape,--certainly not at present."

Thus counselled, the Krooman explained to the sheik that the white
slaves, as well as himself, who had sailed in English ships, had no
intention of running away, but wished to be taken north, where they
might be ransomed; and that they were not such fools as to part from him
in a place where they would certainly starve. The Krooman also informed
the sheik that they were all very glad at being taken out of the hands
of Golah, who would have carried them to Timbuctoo, whence they never
could have returned, but must have ended their days in slavery.

While the Krooman was talking to the sheik, several of the others came
up and listened. The black further informed them that the white slaves
had friends living in Agadeer and Swearah (Santa Cruz and
Mogador),--friends who would pay a large price to ransom them. Why,
then, should they try to escape while journeying towards the place where
those friends were living?

The Krooman went on to say that the young man who had just made off was
Golah's brother-in-law; that, unlike themselves, in going north he would
not be seeking freedom but perpetual slavery, and for that reason he had
gone to rejoin Golah and his son.

This explanation seemed so reasonable to the Arabs, that their fears for
the safety of their slaves soon subsided, and the latter were permitted
to repose in peace.

As a precautionary measure, however, two men were kept moving in a
circle around the douar throughout the whole of the night; but no
disturbance arose, and morning returned without bringing back the two
men who had gone in pursuit of the cunning runaway.

The distance to the next watering-place was too great to admit of any
delay being made; and the journey was resumed, in the hope that the two
missing men would be met on the way.

This hope was realized.

All along the route the old sheik, who rode in advance, kept scanning
the horizon, not only ahead, but to the right and left of their course.
About ten miles from their night's halting-place he was seen to swerve
suddenly from his course, and advance towards something that had
attracted his attention. His followers hastened after him,--all except
the two women and their children, who lingered a long way behind.

Lying on the ground, their bodies contiguous to each other, were the two
Arabs who had gone in pursuit of the runaway.

They were both dead.

One of them had been shot with a musket ball that had penetrated his
skull, entering directly between his temples. The other had been cut
down with a scimitar, his body being almost severed in twain.

The youth who had fled the night before, had evidently come up with
Golah and his son; and the two men who had pursued him had lost their
lives, their animals, muskets, and scimitars.

Golah now had two accomplices, and the three were well mounted and well
armed.

The anger of the Arabs was frightful to behold. They turned towards the
two women whom they knew to be Golah's wives. The latter had thrown
themselves on their knees and were screaming and supplicating for mercy.

Some of the Arabs would have killed them on the instant; but were
prevented by the old sheik, who, although himself wild with rage, had
still sufficient reason left to tell him that the unfortunate women were
not answerable for the acts of their husband. Our adventurers found
reason to regret the misfortune that had befallen their new masters; for
they could not but regard with alarm the returning power of Golah.

"We shall fall into his hands again," exclaimed Terence. "He will kill
all these Arabs one after another, and obtain all he has lost, ourselves
included. We shall yet be driven to Timbuctoo."

"Then we should deserve it," cried Harry, "for it will partly be our own
fault, if ever we fall into Golah's power again."

"I don't think so," said Bill, "Golah is a wondersome man, and as got
somethin' more nor human natur' to 'elp 'im. I think as 'ow if we should
see 'im 'alf a mile off, signalizin' for us to follow 'im, we should
'ave to go. I've tried my hand at disobeyin' his orders, and don't do it
again,--not if I knows it."

The expressions of anger hitherto portrayed on the countenances of the
Arabs, had given place to those of anxiety. They knew that an enemy was
hovering around them,--an enemy whom they had wronged,--whose power they
had undervalued, and whom they had foolishly restored to liberty.

The bodies of their companions were hastily interred in the sand, and
their journey northward was once more resumed.



CHAPTER LVIII.

A CALL FOR TWO MORE.


The sufferings of the slaves for water and food again commenced, while
the pace at which they were compelled to travel, to keep up with the
camels, soon exhausted the little strength they had acquired from the
rest by the well.

During the long afternoon following the burial of the two Arabs, each of
the boy slaves at different times declared his utter inability to
proceed any farther.

They were mistaken; and had yet to learn something of the power which
love of life exerts over the body.

They knew that to linger behind would be death. They did not desire to
die, and therefore struggled on.

Like men upon a treadmill, they were compelled to keep on moving,
although neither able nor willing.

The hour of sunset found them wading through sand that had lately been
stirred by a storm. It was nearly as light and loose as snow; and the
toil of moving through it was so wearisome, that the mounted Arabs,
having some pity on those who had walked, halted early for the night.
Two men were appointed to guard the camp in the same manner as upon the
night before; and with the feelings of hunger and thirst partly
appeased, weary with the toils of day, our adventurers were soon in a
sound slumber. Around them, and half-buried in the soft sand, lay
stretched the other denizens of the douar, all slumbering likewise.

Their rest remained undisturbed until that darkest hour of the night,
just before the dawning of day. They were then startled from sleep by
the report of a musket,--a report that was immediately followed by
another in the opposite direction. The douar was instantly in wild
confusion.

The Arabs seized their weapons, and rushed forth from among the tents.

One of the party that ran in the direction in which the first shot was
heard, seeing a man coming towards them, in the excitement of the moment
fired his musket, and shot the individual who was advancing, who proved
to be one of those entrusted with the guard of the camp.

No enemies could be discovered. They had fled, leaving the two
camp-guards in the agonies of death.

Some of the Arabs would have rushed wildly hither and thither, in search
of the unseen foe, but were prevented by the sheik, who, fearing that
all would be lost, should the douar be deserted by the armed men,
shouted the signal for all his followers to gather around him.

The two wounded men were brought into a tent, where, in a few
minutes, one of them--the man who had been shot by one of his
companions--breathed his last. He had also received a wound from the
first shot that had been heard, his right arm having been shattered by a
musket-ball.

The spine of the other guard had been broken by a bullet, so that
recovery was clearly impossible.

He had evidently heard the first shot fired at his companion from the
opposite side of the camp: and was turning his back upon the foe that
had attacked himself.

The light of day soon shone upon the scene, and they were able to
perceive how their enemies had approached so near the camp without being
observed.

About a hundred paces from where the guards had been standing at the
time the first two shots were fired, was a furrow or ravine running
through the soft sand.

This ravine branched into two lesser ones, including within their angle
the Arab camp, as also the sentinels stationed to guard it.

Up the branches the midnight murderers had silently stolen, each taking
a side; and in this way had got within easy distance of the unsuspecting
sentries.

In the bottom of one of the furrows, where the sand was more firmly
compacted, was found the impression of human footsteps.

The tracks had been made by some person hurriedly leaving the spot.

"Dis be de track ob Golah," said the Krooman to Harry, after he had
examined it. "He made um when runnin' 'way after he fire da musket."

"Very likely," said Harry; "but how do you know it is Golah's track?"

"'Cause Golah hab largess feet in all de world, and no feet but his make
dat mark."

"I tell you again," said Terence, who overheard the Krooman's remark,
"we shall have to go with Golah to Timbuctoo. We belong to him. These
Arabs are only keeping us for a few days, but they will all be killed
yet, and we shall have to follow the black sheik in the opposite
direction."

Harry made no reply to this prophetic speech. Certainly, there was a
prospect of its proving true.

Four Arabs out of the eleven of which their party was originally
composed, were already dead, while still another was dying!

Sailor Bill pronounced Golah, with his son and brother-in-law, quite a
match for the six who were left. The black sheik, he thought, was equal
to any four of their present masters in strength, cunning, and
determination.

"But the Arabs have us to help them," remarked Colin. "We should count
for something."

"So we do,--as merchandise," replied Harry; "we have hitherto been
helpless as children in protecting ourselves. What can we do? The
boasted superiority of our race or country cannot be true here in the
desert. We are out of our element."

"Yes, that's sartain!" exclaimed Bill; "but we're not far from it.
Shiver my timbers if I don't smell salt water. Be Jabers! if we go on
towards the west we shall see the say afore night."

During this dialogue the Arabs were holding a consultation as to what
they should do.

To divide the camp, and send some after their enemies, was pronounced
impolitic: the party sent in pursuit, and that left to guard the
caravan,--either would be too weak if attacked by their truculent enemy.

In union alone was strength, and they resolved to remain together,
believing that they should have a visit from Golah again, while better
prepared to receive him.

The footprints leading out from the two ravines were traced for about a
mile in the direction they wished to follow.

The tracks of camels and horses were there found; and they could tell by
the signs that their enemies had mounted and ridden off towards the
west.

They possibly might have avoided meeting Golah again by going eastward;
but, from their knowledge of the desert, no water was to be found in
that direction in less than five days' journey.

Moreover, they did not yet wish to avoid him. They thirsted for revenge,
and were impatient to move on; for a journey of two days was still
before them before they could hope to arrive at the nearest water.

When every preparation had been made to resume their route, there was
one obstacle in the way of their taking an immediate departure.

Their wounded companion was not yet defunct. They saw it would be
impossible for him to live much longer; for the lower part of his
body,--all below the shattered portion of the spine,--appeared already
without life. A few hours at most would terminate his sufferings; but
for the expiration of those few hours,--or minutes, as fate should
decide,--his companions seemed unwilling to wait!

They dug a hole in the sand near where the wounded man was lying. This
was but the work of a few minutes. As soon as the grave was completed,
the eyes of all were once more turned upon the wretched sufferer.

He was still alive, and by piteous moans expressing the agony he was
enduring.

"Bismillah!" exclaimed the old sheik, "why do you not die, my friend? We
are waiting for the fulfilment of your destiny."

"I am dead," ejaculated the sufferer, speaking in a faint voice, and
apparently with great difficulty.

Having said this, he relapsed into silence, and remained motionless as a
corpse.

The sheik then placed one hand upon his temples. "Yes!" he exclaimed,
"the words of our friend are those of truth and wisdom. He is dead."

The wounded man was then rolled into the cavity which had been scooped
out, and they hastily proceeded to cover him with sand.

As they did so, his hands were repeatedly uplifted, while a low moaning
came from his lips; but his movements were apparently unseen, and his
cries of agony unnoticed!

His companions remained both deaf and blind to any evidence that might
refute his own assertion that he was dead.

The sand was at length heaped up, so as completely to cover his body,
when, by an order from the old sheik, his followers turned away from the
spot and the Kafila moved on.



CHAPTER LIX.

ONCE MORE BY THE SEA.


Sailor Bill's conjecture that they were not far from the sea proved
correct.

On the evening of that same day they saw the sun sink down into a
shining horizon, which they knew was not that of the burning sand-plain
over which they had been so long moving.

That faint and distant view of his favorite element was a joyful moment
for the old sailor.

"We are in sight of home!" he exclaimed. "Shiver my timbers if I ever
lose sight of it again! I shan't be buried in the sand. If I must go
under alive, it shall be under water, like a Christyun. If I could swim,
I'd start right off for Hold Hingland as soon as we get to yonder
shore."

The boy slaves were alike inspired with hope and joy at the distant
view.

The sea was still too far off to be reached that night, and the douar
was pitched about five miles from the shore.

During this night, three of the Arabs were kept constantly on guard; but
the camp was not disturbed, and next morning they resumed their journey,
some with the hope, and others with the fear, that Golah would trouble
them no more.

The Arabs wished to meet him during the hours of daylight, and secure
the property they had lost; and from their knowledge of the part of the
desert they were now traversing, they were in hopes of doing this. They
knew there was but one place within two days' journey where fresh water
could be obtained; and should they succeed in reaching this place before
Golah, they could lie in wait for his arrival. They were certain he must
visit this watering-place to save his animals from perishing with
thirst.

At noonday a halt was made not far from the beach. It was only for a
short while; for they were anxious to reach the well as soon as
possible. The few minutes spent at the halting-place were well employed
by the boy slaves in gathering shell-fish and bathing their bodies in
the surf.

Refreshed by this luxurious food, as well as by the washing, of which
they were greatly in need, they were able to proceed at a better pace;
so that about an hour before sunset the caravan arrived at the well.

Just before reaching it, the old sheik and one of his companions had
dismounted and walked forward to examine such tracks as might be found
about the place. They were chagrined to find that Golah had been before.
He had been to the well, and obtained a supply of water. His footmarks
were easily identified. They were fresh, having been made but an hour or
two before the arrival of the caravan; and in place of their having to
wait for Golah, he was undoubtedly waiting for them. They felt sure that
the black sheik was not far off, watching for a favorable opportunity of
again paying them a nocturnal visit. They could now understand why he
had not attempted to molest them on the preceding night. He had been
hastening forward, in order to reach the well in advance of them.

The apprehensions of the Arabs became keener and keener after this
discovery. They were also much puzzled as to what they should do; and a
diversity of opinion arose as to the best plan for guarding the camp
against their implacable foe. Some were in favor of staying by the well
for several days, until the supply of water which their enemy had taken
with him should be exhausted. Golah would then have to revisit the well,
or perish of thirst upon the desert. The idea was an ingenious one, but
unfortunately their stock of provisions would not admit of any delay,
and it was resolved that the journey should be resumed at once.

Just as they were preparing to move away from the well, a caravan of
traders arrived from the south, and the old sheik made anxious inquiries
as to whether the new-comers had seen any one on their route. The
traders, to whom the caravan belonged, had that morning met three men
who answered to the description of Golah and his companions. They were
journeying south, and had purchased a small supply of food from the
caravan.

Could it be that Golah had given up the hope of recovering his lost
property? relinquished his deadly purpose of revenge? The Arabs
professed much unwillingness to believe it. Some of them loudly proposed
starting southward in pursuit. But this proposition was overruled, and
it was evident that the old sheik, as well as most of his followers,
were in reality pleased to think that Golah would trouble them no more.

The sheik decreed that the property of those who had perished should be
divided amongst those who survived. This giving universal satisfaction,
the Arab Kafila took its departure, leaving the caravan of the traders
by the well, where they were intending to remain for some time longer.

Shortly after leaving the well, the old sheik ordered a halt by the
seashore, where he stopped long enough for his slaves to gather some
shell-fish, enough to satisfy the hunger of all his followers.

A majority of the Arabs were under the belief that the black sheik had
started at last for his own country--satisfied with the revenge he had
already taken. They seemed to think that keeping watch over the camp
would no longer be necessary.

With this opinion their Krooman captive did not agree; and, fearing to
fall again into the possession of Golah, he labored to convince his new
master that they were as likely that night to receive a visit from the
black sheik as they had ever been before.

He argued that, if Golah had entertained a hope of defeating his
foes--eleven in number--when alone, and armed only with a scimitar, he
certainly would not be likely to relinquish that hope after having
succeeded in killing nearly half of them, and being strengthened by a
couple of able assistants.

The Krooman believed that Golah's going south,--as reported by the party
met at the well,--was proof that he really intended proceeding north;
and he urged the Arab sheik to set a good guard over the douar through
the night.

"Tell him," said Harry, "if they are not inclined to keep guard for
themselves, that we will stand it, if they will only allow us to have
weapons of some kind or other."

The Krooman made this communication to the Arab sheik, who smiled only
in reply.

The idea of allowing slaves to guard an Arab douar, especially to
furnish them with fire-arms, was very amusing to the old chieftain of
the Saära.

Harry understood the meaning of his smile. It meant refusal; but the
young Englishman had also become impressed with the danger suggested by
Terence, that Golah would yet kill the Arabs, and take the boy slaves
back to Timbuctoo.

"Tell the sheik that he is an old fool," said he to the interpreter;
"tell him that we have a greater objection to falling into the hands of
Golah than he has of losing either us or his own life. Tell him that we
wish to go north, where we can be redeemed; and that for this reason
alone we should be far more careful than any of his own people in
guarding the camp against surprise."

When this communication was made to the old sheik it seemed to strike
him as having some reason in it; and, convinced by the Krooman's
arguments that there was still danger to be apprehended from Golah's
vengeance, he directed that the douar should be strictly guarded, and
that the white slaves might take part in the duty.

"You shall be taken north, and sold to your countrymen," promised he,
"if you give us no trouble in the transit. There are but few of my
people left now, and it is hard for us to travel all day and keep watch
all night. If you are really afraid of falling into the hands of this
Prophet-accursed negro, and will help us in guarding against his
murderous attacks, you are welcome to do so; but if any one of you
attempt to play traitor, the whole four of you shall lose your heads. I
swear it by the beard of the Prophet!"

The Krooman assured him that none of the white slaves had any desire to
deceive him, adding that self-interest, if nothing else, would cause
them to be true to those who would take them to a place where they would
have a chance of being ransomed out of slavery.

Darkness having by this time descended over the desert, the sheik set
about appointing the guard for the night. He was too suspicious of his
white slaves to allow all the four of them to act as guards at the same
time, while he and his companions were asleep. He was willing, however,
that one of them should be allowed to keep watch in company with one of
his own followers.

In choosing the individual for this duty, he inquired from the Krooman
which of the four had been most ill-used by the black sheik. Sailor Bill
was pointed out as the man, and the interpreter gave some details of the
cruel treatment to which the old man-o'-war's-man had been subjected at
the hands of Golah.

"Bismillah! that is well," said the sheik. "Let him keep the watch.
After what you say, revenge should hinder him from closing his eyes in
sleep for a whole moon. There's no fear that he will betray us."



CHAPTER LX.

GOLAH CALLS AGAIN.


In setting the watch for the night one of the sentinels was stationed on
the shore about a hundred yards north of the douar. His instructions
were to walk a round of about two hundred paces, extending inward from
the beach.

Another was placed about the same distance south of the camp, and was to
pace backwards and forwards after a similar fashion.

Sailor Bill was stationed on the land side of the camp, where he was to
move to and fro between the beats of the two Arab guards, each of whom,
on discovering him at the termination of his round, was to utter the
word "_Akka_," so that the sailor should distinguish them from an enemy.

The Arabs themselves were supposed to be sufficiently intelligent to
tell a friend from a foe without requiring any countersign.

Before Bill was sent upon his beat, the old sheik went into a tent, and
soon after reappeared with a large pistol, bearing a strong likeness to
a blunderbuss. This weapon he placed in the sailor's hand, with the
injunction--translated to him by the interpreter--not to discharge it
until he should be certain of killing either Golah or one of his
companions.

The old sailor, although sorely fatigued with the toil of the day's
journey, had so great a horror of again becoming the property of the
black sheik, that he cheerfully promised to "walk the deck all night,
and keep a good lookout for breakers," and his young companions sought
repose in full confidence that the promise would be faithfully kept.

Any one of the boy slaves would willingly have taken his place, and
allowed their old comrade to rest for the night; but Bill had been
selected by the old sheik, and from his decree there was no appeal.

The two Arabs doing duty as sentinels knew, from past experience, that
if the Kafila was still followed by Golah, they would be the individuals
most exposed to danger; and this knowledge was sufficient to stimulate
them to the most faithful discharge of their trust.

Neither of them wished to become victims to the fate which had befallen
their predecessors in office.

For two or three hours both paced slowly to and fro; and Bill, each time
he approached the end of his beat, could hear distinctly pronounced the
word "_Akka_" which proved that his co-sentinels were fully on the
alert.

It so chanced that one of them had no faith in the general belief that
the enemy had relinquished his purposes sanguinary of vengeance.

He drew his deductions from Golah's conduct in the past, and during the
long silent hours of the night his fancy was constantly dwelling on the
manner in which the dreaded enemy had approached the douar on former
occasions.

This sentry was the one stationed to the south of the douar; and with
eyes constantly striving to pierce the darkness that shrouded the sand
plain, the water, on which a better light was reflected, received no
attention from him. He believed the douar well protected on the side of
the sea, for he had no idea that danger could come from that direction.

He was mistaken.

Had their enemies been, like himself and his companions, true children
of the Saära, his plan of watching for their approach might have
answered well enough; but the latter chanced to be the offspring of a
different country and race.

About three hours after the watch had been established, the sentinel
placed on the southern side of the douar was being closely observed by
the black sheik, yet knew it not.

Golah had chosen a singular plan to secure himself against being
observed, similar to that selected by the three mids for the like
purpose soon after their being cast away upon the coast.

He had stolen into the water, and with only his woolly occiput above the
surface, had approached within a few yards of the spot where the Arab
sentry turned upon his round.

In the darkness of the night, at the distance of twelve or fifteen
paces, he might have been discovered, had a close survey been made of
the shining surface. But there was no such survey, and Golah watched the
sentinel, himself unseen.

The attention of the Arab was wholly occupied in looking for the
approach of a foe from the land side; and while he was in continual fear
of hearing the report of a musket, or feeling the stroke of its bullet.

This disagreeable surprise he never expected could come from the sea,
but was so fully anticipated from the land, that he paid but little or
no attention to the restless waves that were breaking with low moans
against the beach.

As he turned his back upon the water for the hundredth time, with the
intention of walking to the other end of his beat, Golah crept gently
out of the water and hastened after him.

The deep sighing of the waves against the shingly shore hindered the
sound of footsteps from being heard.

Golah was only armed with a scimitar; but it was a weapon that, in his
hands, was sure to fall with deadly effect. It was a weapon of great
size and weight, having been made expressly for himself; and with this
upraised, he silently but swiftly glided after the unconscious Arab.

Adding the whole strength of his powerful arm to the weight of the
weapon, the black sheik brought its sharp edge slantingly down upon the
neck of the unsuspecting sentinel.

With a low moan, that sounded in perfect harmony with the sighing of the
waves, the Arab fell to the earth, leaving his musket in the huge hand
his assassin had stretched forth to grasp it. Putting the gun to full
cock, Golah walked on in the direction in which the sentry had been
going. He intended next to encounter the man who was guarding the
eastern side of the douar. Walking boldly on, he took no trouble to
avoid the sound of his footsteps being heard, believing that he would be
taken for the sentry he had just slain. After going about a hundred
paces without seeing any one, he paused, and with his large fiercely
gleaming eyes strove to penetrate the surrounding gloom. Still no one
was to be seen, and he laid himself along the earth to listen for
footfalls.

Nothing could be heard; but after glancing for some moments along the
ground, he saw a dark object outlined above the surface. Unable, from
the distance, to form a correct idea of what it was, he cautiously
advanced towards it, keeping on all fours, till he could see that the
object was a human being, prostrate on the ground, and apparently
listening, like himself. Why should the man be listening? Not to note
the approach of his companion, for that should be expected without
suspicion, as his attitude would indicate. He might be asleep, reasoned
Golah. If so, Fortune seemed to favor him, and with this reflection he
steadily moved on towards the prostrate form.

Though the latter moved not, still Golah was not quite sure that the
sentry was asleep. Again he paused, and for a moment fixed his eyes on
the body with a piercing gaze. If the man was not sleeping, why should
he allow an enemy to approach so near? Why lie so quietly, without
showing any sign or giving an alarm? If Golah could despatch this
sentinel as he had done the other, without making any noise, he would,
along with his two relatives (who were waiting the result of his
adventure), afterwards steal into the douar, and all he had lost might
be again recovered.

The chance was worth the risk, so thought Golah, and silently moved on.

As he drew nearer, he saw that the man was lying on his side, with his
face turned towards him, and partly concealed by one arm.

The black sheik could see no gun in his hands, and consequently there
would be but little danger in an encounter with him, if such should
chance to arise.

Golah grasped the heavy scimitar in his right hand, evidently intending
to despatch his victim as he had done the other, with a single blow.

The head could be severed from the body at one stroke, and no alarm
would be given to the slumbering camp.

The heavy blade of shining steel was raised aloft; and the gripe of the
powerful hand clutching its hilt became more firm and determined.

Sailor Bill! has your promise to keep a sharp lookout been broken so
soon?

Beware! Golah is near with strength in his arm, and murder in his mind!



CHAPTER LXI.

SAILOR BILL STANDING SENTRY.


After two hours had been passed in moving slowly to and fro, hearing the
word "_Akka_" and seeing nothing but gray sand, Sailor Bill began to
feel weary, and now regretted that the old sheik had honored him with
his confidence.

For the first hour of his watch he had kept a good lookout to the
eastward, and had given the whole of his attention to his sentinel's
duty.

Gradually his intense alertness forsook him, and he began to think of
the past and future.

Themes connected with these subjects seldom troubled Bill,--his thoughts
generally dwelling upon the present; but, in the darkness and solitude
in which he was now placed, there was but little of the present to
arrest his attention. For the want of something else to amuse his mind,
it was turned to the small cannon he was carrying in his hand.

"This 'ere thing," thought he, "aint o' much use as a pistol, though it
might be used as a war-club at close quarters. I hope I shan't 'ave to
fire it hoff. The barrel is thin, and the bullet hinside it must be
a'most as large as an 'en's heg. It ud be like enough to bust. Preaps 't
aint loaded, and may 'ave been given to me for amusement. I may as well
make sure about that."

After groping about for some time, the sailor succeeded in finding a
small piece of stick, with which he measured the length of the barrel on
the outside; then, by inserting the stick into the muzzle, he found that
the depth of the barrel was not quite equal to its length.

There must be something inside therefore, but he was positive there was
no ball. He next examined the pan, and found the priming all right.

"I see 'ow 'tis," muttered he, "the old sheik only wants me to make a
row with it, in case I sees anything as is suspicious. He was afeard to
put a ball in it lest I should be killin' one of themselves. That's his
confidence. He on'y wants me to bark without being able to bite. But
this don't suit me at all, at all. Faix, I'll find a bit of a stone and
ram it into the barrel."

Saying this he groped about the ground in search of a pebble of the
proper size; but for some time could find none to his liking. He could
lay his hand on nothing but the finest sand.

While engaged in this search he fancied he heard some one approaching
from the side opposite to that in which he was expecting to hear the
word "_Akka_."

He looked in that direction, but could see nothing save the gray surface
of the sea-beach.

Since being on the desert Bill had several times observed the Arabs lay
themselves along the earth to listen for the sound of footsteps. This
plan he now tried himself.

With his eyes close to the ground, the old sailor fancied he was able to
see to a greater distance than when standing upright. There seemed to be
more light on the surface of the earth than at four or five feet above
it; and objects in the distance were placed more directly between his
eyes and the horizon.

While thus lying extended along the sand, he heard footsteps approaching
from the shore; but, believing they were those of the sentinel, he paid
no attention to them. He only listened for a repetition of those sounds
he fancied to have come from the opposite direction.

But nothing was now heard to the eastward; and he came to the conclusion
that he had been deceived by an excited fancy.

Of one thing, however, he soon became certain. It was, that the
footsteps which he supposed to be those of the Arab who kept, what Bill
called, the "larboard watch," were drawing nearer than usual, and that
the word "_Akka_" was not pronounced as before.

The old sailor slewed himself around, and directed his gaze towards the
shore.

The sound of footsteps was no longer heard, but the figure of a man was
perceived at no great distance from the spot.

He was not advancing nearer, but standing erect, and apparently gazing
sharply about him.

Could this man be the Arab sentinel?

The latter was known to be short and of slight frame, while the man now
seen appeared tall and of stout build. Instead of remaining in his
upright attitude, and uttering, as the sentry should have done, the word
"_Akka_," the stranger was seen to stoop down, and place his ear close
to the earth as if to listen.

During a moment or two while the man's eyes appeared to be turned away
from him, the sailor took the precaution to fill the barrel of his
pistol with sand.

Should he give the alarm by firing off the pistol, and then run towards
the camp?

No! he might have been deceived by an excited imagination. The
individual before him might possibly be the Arab guard trying to
discover his presence before giving the sign.

While the sailor was thus undecided, the huge form drew nearer,
approaching on all fours. It came within eight or ten paces of the spot,
and then slowly assumed an upright position. Bill now saw it was not the
sentinel but the black sheik!

The old man-o'-war's-man was never more frightened in his life. He
thought of discharging the pistol, and running back to the douar; but
then came the thought that he would certainly be shot down the instant
he should rise to his feet; and fear held him motionless.

Golah drew nearer and nearer, and the sailor seeing the scimitar
uplifted suddenly formed the resolution to act.

Projecting the muzzle of his huge pistol towards the black, he pulled
the trigger, and at the same instant sprang to his feet.

There was a loud deafening report, followed by a yell of wild agony.

Bill stayed not to note the effect of his fire: but ran as fast as his
legs would carry him towards the camp,--already alarmed by the report of
the pistol.

The Arabs were running to and fro in terrible fear and confusion,
shouting as they ran.

Amidst these shouts was heard,--in the direction from which the sailor
had fled,--a loud voice frantically calling, "Muley! Muley!"

"'Tis the voice of Golah!" exclaimed the Krooman in Arabic. "He is
calling for his son,--Muley is his son's name!"

"They are going to attack the douar," shouted the Arab sheik, and his
words were followed by a scene of the wildest terror.

The Arabs rushed here and there, mingling their cries with those of the
slaves; while women shrieked, children screamed, dogs barked, horses
neighed, and even the quiet camels gave voice to their alarm.

In the confusion the two wives of Golah, taking their children along
with them, hurried away from the camp, and escaped undiscovered in the
darkness.

They had heard the voice of the father of their children, and understood
that accent of anguish in which he had called out the name of his son.

They were women,--women who, although dreading their tyrant husband in
his day of power, now pitied him in his hour of misfortune.

The Arabs, anxiously expecting the appearance of their enemy, in great
haste made ready to meet him; but they were left unmolested.

In a few minutes all was quiet: not a sound was heard in the vicinity of
the douar; and the late alarm might have appeared only a panic of
groundless fear.

The light of day was gradually gathering in the east when the Arab
sheik, recovering from his excitement, ventured to make an examination
of the douar and its denizens.

Two important facts presented themselves as evidence, that the fright
they had experienced was not without a cause. The sentry who had been
stationed to guard the camp on its southern side was not present, and
Golah's two wives and their children were also absent!

There could be no mystery about the disappearance of the women. They had
gone to rejoin the man whose voice had been heard calling "Muley."

But where was the Arab sentry? Had another of the party fallen a victim
to the vengeance of Golah?



CHAPTER LXII.

GOLAH FULFILS HIS DESTINY.


Taking the Krooman by one arm, the Arab sheik led him up to the old
man-o'-war's-man, who, sailor-like having finished his watch, had gone
to sleep.

After being awakened by the sheik, the Krooman was told to ask the white
man why he fired his pistol.

"Why, to kill Golah,--the big nager!" answered Bill; "an' I'm mighty
desaved if I 'ave not done it."

This answer was communicated to the sheik, who had the art of expressing
unbelief with a peculiar smile, which he now practised.

Bill was asked if he had seen the black sheik.

"Seen him! sartinly I did," answered the sailor. "He was not more nor
four paces from me at the time I peppered 'im. I tell you he is gone and
done for."

The sheik shook his head, and again smiled incredulously.

Further inquiries were interrupted by the discovery of the body of the
Arab sentinel whom Golah had killed, and all clustered around it.

The man's head was nearly severed from his body; and the blow--which
must have caused instant death--had evidently been given by the black
sheik. Near the corpse, tracks were observed in the sand such as no
other human being but Golah could have made.

It was now broad daylight; and the Arabs, glancing along the shore to
southward, made another discovery.

Two camels with a horse were seen upon the beach about half a mile off;
and, leaving one of their number to guard the douar, the old sheik with
his followers started off in the hope of recovering some of the property
they had lost.

They were followed by most of the slaves; who, by the misfortunes of
their master, were under less restraint.

On arriving near the place where the camels were, the young man we have
described as Golah's brother-in-law, was found to be in charge of them.
He was lying on the ground; but on the approach of the Arabs, he sprang
to his feet, at the same time holding up both his hands.

He carried no weapon; and the gesture signified, "It is peace."

The two women, surrounded by their children, were near by, sitting
silent and sorrowful on the sea-beach. They took no heed of the approach
of the Arabs; and did not even look up as the latter drew near.

The muskets and other weapons were lying about. One of the camels was
down upon the sand. It was dead; and the young negro was in the act of
eating a large piece of raw flesh he had severed from its hump.

The Arab sheik inquired after Golah. He to whom the inquiry was directed
pointed to the sea, where two dark bodies were seen tumbling about in
the surf as it broke against the shingle of the beach.

The three midshipmen, at the command of the sheik, waded in, and dragged
the bodies out of the water.

They were recognized as those of Golah and his son, Muley.

Golah's face appeared to have been frightfully lacerated; and his once
large fierce eyes were altogether gone.

The brother-in-law was called on to explain the mysterious death of the
black sheik and his son.

His explanation was as follows:--

"I heard Golah calling for Muley after hearing the report of a gun. From
that I knew that he was wounded. Muley ran to assist him, while I stayed
behind with the horse and camels. I am starving! Very soon Muley came
running back, followed by his father, who seemed possessed of an evil
spirit. He ran this way and that way, swinging his scimitar about, and
trying to kill us both as well as the camels. He could not see, and we
managed to keep out of his way. I am starving!"

The young negro here paused, and, once more picking up the piece of
camel's flesh, proceeded to devour it with an alacrity that proved the
truth of his assertion.

"Pig!" exclaimed the sheik, "tell your story first, and eat afterwards."

"Praise be to Allah!" said the youth, as he resumed his narrative,
"Golah ran against one of the camels and killed it."

His listeners looked towards the dead camel. They saw that the body bore
the marks of Golah's great scimitar.

"After killing the camel," continued the young man, "the sheik became
quiet. The evil spirit had passed out of him; and he sat down upon the
sand. Then his wives came up to him; and he talked to them kindly, and
put his hands on each of the children, and called them by name. They
screamed when they looked at him, and Golah told them not to be
frightened; that he would wash his face and frighten them no more. The
little boy led him to the water and he rushed into the sea as far as he
could wade. He went there to die. Muley ran after to bring him out, and
they were both drowned. I could not help them, for I was starving!"

The emaciated appearance of the narrator gave strong evidence of the
truth of the concluding words of his story. For nearly a week he had
been travelling night and day, and the want of sleep and food could not
have been much longer endured.

At the command of the Arab chief, the slaves now buried the bodies of
Golah and his son.

Gratified at his good fortune, in being relieved from all further
trouble with his implacable foeman, the sheik determined to have a day
of rest, which to his slaves was very welcome, as was also the flesh of
the dead camel, now given them to eat.

About the death of Golah there was still a mystery the Arabs could not
comprehend; and the services of the Krooman as interpreter were again
called into requisition.

When the sheik learnt what the sailor had done,--how the pistol had been
made an effective weapon by filling the barrel with sand,--he expressed
much satisfaction at the manner in which the old man-o'-war's-man had
performed his duty.

Full of gratitude for the service thus rendered him, he promised that
not only the sailor himself, but the boy slaves, his companions, should
be taken to Mogador, and restored to their friends.



CHAPTER LXIII.

ON THE EDGE OF THE SAÄRA.


After a journey of two long dreary days--days that were to the boy
slaves periods of agonizing torture, from fatigue, hunger, thirst, and
exposure to a burning sun--the kafila arrived at another watering-place.

As they drew near the place, our adventurers perceived that it was the
same where they had first fallen into the hands of Golah.

"May God help us!" exclaimed Harry Blount, as they approached the place.
"We have been here before. We shall find no water, I fear. We did not
leave more than two bucketfuls in the hole; and as there has been no
rain since, that must be dried up, long ago."

An expression of hopeless despair came over the countenances of his
companions. They had seen, but a few days before, nearly all the water
drawn out of the pool, and given to the camels.

Their fears were soon removed, and followed by the real gratification of
a desire they had long been indulging--the desire to quench their
thirst. There was plenty of water in the pool--a heavy deluge of rain
having fallen over the little valley since they had left it.

The small supply of food possessed by the travellers would not admit of
their making any delay at this watering-place; and the next morning the
journey was resumed.

The Arabs appeared to bear no animosity towards the young man who had
assisted Golah in killing their companions; and now that the black sheik
was dead, they had no fear that the former would try to escape. The
negro was one of those human beings who cannot own themselves, and who
never feel at home unless with some one to control them. He quietly took
his place along with the other slaves,--apparently resigned to his
fate,--a fate that doomed him to perpetual slavery, though a condition
but little lower than that he had occupied with his brother-in-law.

Eight days were now passed in journeying in a direction that led a
little to the east of north.

To the white slaves they were days of indescribable agony, from those
two terrible evils that assail all travellers through the Saära,--hunger
and thirst. Within the distance passed during these eight days they
found but one watering-place, where the supply was not only small in
quantity but bad in quality.

It was a well, nearly dried up, containing a little water, offensive to
sight and smell, and only rendered endurable to taste by the
irresistible power of thirst.

The surface of the pool was covered nearly an inch thick with dead
insects, which had to be removed to reach the discolored element
beneath. They were not only compelled to use, but were even thankful to
obtain, this impure beverage.

The route followed during these eight days was not along the seashore;
and they were therefore deprived of the opportunity of satisfying their
hunger with shell-fish. The Arabs were in haste to reach some place
where they could procure food for their animals, and at the pace at
which they rode forward, it required the utmost exertion on the part of
their slaves to keep up with them.

The old man-o'-war's-man, unused to land travelling, could never have
held out, had not the Arabs allowed him, part of the time, to ride on a
camel. The feat he had performed, in ridding them of that enemy who had
troubled them so much--and who, had he not been thwarted in his attack
upon the camp, would probably have killed them all--had inspired his
masters with some slight gratitude. The sailor, therefore, was permitted
to ride, when they saw that otherwise they would have to leave him
behind to die upon the desert.

During the last two days of the eight, our adventurers noticed something
in the appearance of the country, over which they were moving, that
inspired them with hope. The face of the landscape became more uneven;
while here and there stunted bushes and weeds were seen, as if
struggling between life and death.

The kafila had arrived on the northern border of the great Saära; and a
few days more would bring them to green fields, shady groves, and
streams of sparkling water.

Something resembling the latter was soon after discovered. At the close
of the eighth day they reached the bed of what appeared to be a river
recently dried up. Although there was no current they found some pools
of stagnant water: and beside one of these the douar was established.

On a hill to the north were growing some green shrubs to which the
camels were driven; and upon these they immediately commenced browsing.
Not only the leaves, but the twigs and branches were rapidly twisted off
by the long prehensile lips of the animals, and as greedily devoured.

It was twilight as the camp had been fairly pitched; and just then two
men were seen coming towards them leading a camel. They were making for
the pools of water, for the purpose of filling some goat skins which
were carried on their camel. They appeared both surprised and annoyed to
find the pools in possession of strangers.

Seeing they could not escape observation, the men came boldly forward,
and commenced filling their goat-skins. While thus engaged they told the
Arab sheik that they belonged to a caravan near at hand that was
journeying southward; and that they should continue their journey early
the next morning.

After the departure of the two men the Arabs held a consultation.

"They have told us a lie," remarked the old sheik, "they are not on a
journey, or they would have halted here by the water. By the beard of
our Prophet they have spoken falsely!"

With this opinion his followers agreed; and it was suggested that the
two men they had seen were of some party encamped by the seashore, and
undoubtedly amusing themselves with a wreck, or gathering wealth in some
other unusual way.

Here was an opportunity not to be lost; and the Arabs determined to have
a share in whatever good fortune Providence might have thrown in the way
of those already upon the ground. If it should prove to be a wreck there
might be serious difficulty with those already in possession; it was
resolved, therefore, to wait for the morning, when they could form a
better opinion of their chances of success, should a conflict be
necessary to secure it.



CHAPTER LXIV.

THE RIVAL WRECKERS.


Early next morning the kafila was _en route_ for the seashore, which was
discovered not far distant. On coming near a douar of seven tents was
seen standing upon the beach: and several men stepped forward to receive
them.

The usual salutations were exchanged, and the new comers began to look
about them. Several pieces of timber lying along the shore gave evidence
that their conjecture, as to a wreck having taken place, had been a
correct one.

"There is but one God, and He is kind to us all," said the old sheik;
"He casts the ships of unbelievers on our shores, and we have come to
claim a share of His favors."

"You are welcome to all you can justly claim," answered a tall man, who
appeared to be the leader of the party of wreckers. "Mahomet is the
prophet of Him who sends favors to all, both good and bad. If he has
sent anything for you, look along the sea-beach and find it."

On this invitation the camels of the kafila were unloaded, and the tents
pitched. The new-comers then set about searching for the _débris_ of the
wrecked vessel.

They discovered only some spars, and other pieces of ship-timbers, which
were of no value to either party.

A consultation now took place between the old sheik and his followers.
They were unanimous in the belief that a sunken ship was near them, and
that they had only to watch the rival wreckers, and learn where she was
submerged.

Desisting from their search, they resolved to keep a lookout.

When this determination became known to the other party, its chief,
after conferring with his companions, came forward, and, announcing
himself as the representative of his people, proposed a conference.

"I am Sidi Hamet," said he, "and the others you see here are my friends
and relatives. We are all members of the same family, and faithful
followers of the Prophet. God is great, and has been kind to us. He has
sent us a prize. We are about to gather the gifts of His mercy. Go your
way, and leave us in peace."

"I am Rais Abdallah Yezzed," answered the old sheik, "and neither my
companions nor myself are so bad but that we, too, may be numbered among
those who are entitled to God's favor, when it pleases Him to cast on
our shores the ships of the infidel."

In rejoinder Sidi Hamet entered upon a long harangue; in which he
informed the old sheik that in the event of a vessel having gone to
pieces, and the coast having been strown with merchandise, each party
would have been entitled to all it could gather; but unfortunately for
both, those pleasant circumstances did not now exist; although it was
true, that the hulk of a vessel, containing a cargo that could not wash
ashore was lying under water near by. They had discovered it, and
therefore laid claim to all that it contained.

Sidi Hamet's party was a strong one, consisting of seventeen men; and
therefore could afford to be communicative without the least danger of
being disturbed in their plans and prospects.

They acknowledged that they had been working ten days in clearing the
cargo out of the sunken vessel, and that their work was not yet half
done--the goods being very difficult to get at.

The old sheik inquired of what the cargo consisted; but could obtain no
satisfactory answer.

Here was a mystery. Seventeen men had been fourteen days unloading the
hulk of a wrecked ship, and yet no articles of merchandise were to be
seen near the spot!

A few casks, some pieces of old sail, with a number of cooking utensils
that had belonged to a ship's galley, lay upon the beach; but these
could not be regarded as forming any portion of the cargo of a ship.

The old sheik and his followers were in a quandary.

They had often heard of boxes full of money having been obtained from
wrecked ships.

Sailors cast away upon their coast had been known to bury such
commodities, and afterwards under torture to reveal the spot where the
interment had been made.

Had this vessel, on which the wreckers were engaged, been freighted with
money, and had the boxes been buried as soon as brought ashore?

It was possible, thought the new comers. They must wait and learn; and
if there was any means by which they could claim a share in the good
fortune of those who had first discovered the wreck, those means must be
adopted.

The original discoverers were too impatient to stay proceedings till
their departure; and feeling secure in the superiority of numbers, they
recommenced their task of discharging the submerged hulk.

They advanced to the water's edge, taking along with them a long rope
that had been found attached to the spars. At one end of this rope they
had made a running noose, which was made fast to a man, who swam out
with it to the distance of about a hundred yards.

The swimmer then dived out of sight. He had gone below to visit the
wreck, and attach the rope to a portion of the cargo.

A minute after his head was seen above the surface, and a shout was sent
forth. Some of his companions on the beach now commenced hauling in the
rope, the other end of which had been left in their hands.

When the noose was pulled ashore, it was found to embrace a large block
of sandstone, weighing about twenty-five or thirty pounds!

The Krooman had already informed Harry Blount and his companions of
something he had learnt from the conversation of the wreckers; and the
three mids had been watching with considerable interest the movements of
the diver and his assistants.

When the block of sandstone was dragged up on the beach, they stared at
each other with expressions of profound astonishment.

No wonder: the wreckers were employed in clearing the ballast out of a
sunken ship!

What could be their object? Our adventurers could not guess. Nor,
indeed, could the wreckers themselves have given a good reason for
undergoing such an amount of ludicrous labor.

Why they had not told the old sheik what sort of cargo they were saving
from the wreck, was because they had no certain knowledge of its value,
or what in reality it was they were taking so much time and trouble to
get safely ashore.

As they believed that the white slaves must have a perfect knowledge of
the subject upon which they were themselves so ignorant, they closely
scanned the countenances of the latter, as the block of ballast was
drawn out upon the dry sand.

They were rewarded for their scrutiny.

The surprise exhibited by Sailor Bill and the three mids confirmed the
wreckers in their belief that they were saving something of grand value;
for, in fact, had the block of sandstone been a monstrous nugget of
gold, the boy slaves could not have been more astonished at beholding
it.

Their behavior increased the ardor of the salvors in the pursuit in
which they were engaged, along with the envy of the rival party, who, by
the laws of the Saäran coast, were not allowed to participate in their
toil.

The Krooman now endeavored to undeceive his master as to the value of
the "salvage,"--telling him that what their rivals were taking out of
the sunken ship was nothing but worthless stone.

But his statement was met with a smile of incredulity. Those engaged in
getting the ballast ashore regarded the Krooman's statements with equal
contempt. He was either a liar or a fool, and therefore unworthy of the
least attention. With this reflection they went on with their work.

After some time spent in reconsidering the subject, the old sheik called
the Krooman aside; and when out of hearing of the wreckers, asked him to
give an explanation of the real nature of what he himself persisted in
calling the "cargo" of the wreck,--as well as a true statement of its
value.

The slave did as he was desired; but the old sheik only shook his head,
once more declaring his incredulity.

He had never heard of a ship that did not carry a cargo of something
valuable. He thought that no men would be so stupid and foolish as to go
from one country to another in ships loaded only with worthless stones.

As nothing else in the shape of cargo was found aboard the wreck, the
stones must be of some value. So argued the Arab.

While the Krooman was trying to explain the real purpose for which the
stones had been placed in the hold of the vessel, one of the wreckers
came up and informed him that a white man was in one of their tents,
that he was ill, and wished to see and converse with the infidel slaves,
of whose arrival he had just heard.

The Krooman communicated this piece of intelligence to our adventurers;
and the tent that contained the sick white man having been pointed out
to them, they at once started towards it, expecting to see some
unfortunate countryman, who, like themselves, had been cast away on the
inhospitable shores of the Saära.



CHAPTER LXV.

ANOTHER WHITE SLAVE.


On entering within the tent to which they had been directed, they found,
lying upon the ground, a man about forty years of age. Although he
appeared a mere skeleton, consisting of little more than skin and bones,
he did not present the general aspect of a man suffering from ill
health; nor yet would he have passed for a _white_ man anywhere out of
Africa.

"You are the first English people I've seen for over thirty years," said
he, as they entered the tent: "for I can tell by your looks that every
one of you are English. You are my countrymen. I was white once myself;
and you will be as black as I am when you have been sun-scorched here
for forty-three years, as I have been."

"What!" exclaimed Terence; "have you been a slave in the Saära so long
as that? If so, God help us! What hope is there of our ever getting
free?"

The young Irishman spoke in a tone of despair.

"Very little chance of your ever seeing home again, my lad," answered
the invalid; "but _I_ have a chance now, if you and your comrades don't
spoil it. For God's sake don't tell these Arabs that they are the fools
they are for making salvage of the ballast. If you do, they'll be sure
to make an end of me. It's all my doing. I've made them believe the
stones are valuable, so that they may take them to some place where I
can escape. It is the only chance I have had for years,--don't destroy
it, as you value the life of a fellow-countryman."

From further conversation with the man, our adventurers learned that he
had been shipwrecked on the coast many years before, and had ever since
been trying to get transported to some place where he might be ransomed.
He declared that he had been backward and forward across the desert
forty or fifty times; and that he had belonged to not less than fifty
masters!

"I have only been with these fellows a few weeks," said he, "and
fortunately when we came this way we were able to tell where the sunken
ship was by seeing her foremast then sticking out of the water. The
vessel was in ballast; and the crew probably put out to sea in their
boats, without being discovered. It was the first ship my masters had
ever heard of without a cargo; and they would not believe but what the
stones were such, and must be worth something--else why should they be
carried about the world in a ship. I told them it was a kind of stone
from which gold was obtained; but that it must be taken to some place
where there was plenty of coal or wood, before the gold could be melted
out of it, and then intrusted to white men who understood the art of
extracting the precious metal from the rocks.

"They believe all this; for they can see shining particles in the
sandstone which they think is really gold, or something that can be
converted into it. For four days they forced me to toil, at diving and
assisting them; but that didn't suit my purpose; and I've at length
succeeded in making them believe that I am not able to work any longer."

"But do you really think," asked Harry Blount, "that they will carry the
ballast any distance without learning its real value?"

"Yes; I did think that they might take it to Mogador, and that they
would let me go along with them."

"But some one will meet them, and tell them that their lading is
worthless?" suggested Colin.

"No, I think that fear of losing their valuable freight will keep them
from letting any one know what they've got. They are hiding it in the
sand now, as fast as they get it ashore, for fear some party stronger
than themselves should come along and take it away from them. I intend
to tell them after they have started on their journey, not to let any
one see or know what they have, until they are safe within the walls of
Mogador, where they will be under the protection of the governor. They
have promised to take me along with them, and if I once get within sight
of a seaport, not all the Arabs in Africa will hinder me from recovering
my liberty."

While the pretended invalid was talking to them, Sailor Bill had been
watching him, apparently with eager interest.

"Beg pardon for 'aving a small taste o' difference wid you in the mather
ov your age," said the sailor, as soon as the man had ceased speaking;
"but I'll never belave you've been about 'ere for forty years. It can't
be so long as that."

The two men, after staring at each other for a moment, uttered the words
"Jim!" "Bill!" and then, springing forward, each grasped the hand of the
other. Two brothers had met!

The three mids remembered that Bill had told them of a brother, who,
when last heard from, was a slave somewhere in the Saära, and they
needed no explanation of the scene now presented to them.

The two brothers were left alone; and after the others had gone out of
the tent they returned to the Krooman--who had just succeeded in
convincing the sheik, that the stones being fished out of the sunken
ship were, at that time and place, of no value whatever.

All attempts on the part of the old sheik to convince the wreckers, as
he had been convinced himself, proved fruitless.

The arguments he used to them were repeated to the sailor, Bill's
brother; and by him were easily upset with a few words.

"Of course they will try to make you believe the cargo is no good,"
retorted Jim. "They wish you to leave it, so that they can have it all
to themselves. Does not common sense tell you that they are liars?"

This was conclusive; and the wreckers continued their toil, extracting
stone after stone out of the hold of the submerged ship.

Sailor Bill, at his brother's request, then summoned his companions to
the tent.

"Which of you have been trying to do me an injury?" inquired Jim. "I
told you not to say that the stones were worthless."

It was explained to him how the Krooman had been enlightening his
master.

"Call the Krooman," said Jim, "and I'll enlighten him. If these Arabs
find out that they have been deceived, I shall be killed, and your
master--the old sheik--will certainly lose all his property. Tell him to
come here also. I must talk to him. Something must be done immediately,
or I shall be killed."

The Krooman and the old sheik were conducted into the tent; and Jim
talked to them in the Arabic language.

"Leave my masters alone to their folly," said he to the sheik; "and they
will be so busy that you can depart in peace. If not, and you convince
them that they have been deceived, they will rob you of all you have
got. You have already said enough to excite their suspicions, and they
will in time learn that I have been humbugging them. My life is no
longer safe in their company. You buy me, then; and let us all take our
departure immediately."

"Are the stones in the wreck really worth nothing?" asked the sheik.

"No more than the sand on the shore; and when they find out that such is
the case, some one will be robbed. They have come to the seacoast to
seek wealth, and they will have it one way or the other. They are a
tribe of bad men. Buy me, and leave them to continue the task they have
so ignorantly undertaken."

"You are not well," replied the sheik; "and if I buy you, you cannot
walk."

"Let me ride on a camel until I get out of sight of these my masters,"
answered Jim; "you will then see whether I can walk or not. They will
sell me cheap; for they think I am done up. But I am not; I was only
weary of diving after worthless stones."

The old sheik promised to follow Jim's advice; and ordered his
companions to prepare immediately for the continuance of their journey.

Sidi Hamet was called, and asked by Rais Abdallah if he would sell some
of the stones they had saved from the infidel ship.

"Bismillah! No!" exclaimed the wrecker. "You say they are of no value,
and I do not wish to cheat any true believer of the prophet."

"Will you _give_ me some of them, then?"

"No! Allah forbid that Sidi Hamet should ever make a worthless present
to a friend!"

"I am a merchant," rejoined the old sheik; "and wish to do business.
Have you any slaves, or other property you can sell me?"

"Yes! You see that Christian dog," replied the wrecker, pointing to
Sailor Bill's brother; "I will sell him."

"You have promised to take me to Swearah," interrupted Jim. "Do not sell
me, master; I think I shall get well some time, and will then work for
you as hard as I can."

Sidi Hamet cast upon his infidel slave a look of contempt at this
allusion to his illness; but Jim's remark, and the angry glance, were
both unheeded by the Arab sheik.

The slave's pretended wishes not to be sold were disregarded; and for
the consideration of an old shirt and a small camel-hair tent, he became
the property of Rais Abdallah Yezzed.

The old sheik and his followers then betook themselves to their camels;
and the kafila was hurried up the dry bed of the river,--leaving the
wreckers to continue their toilsome and unprofitable task.



CHAPTER LXVI.

SAILOR BILL'S BROTHER.


After leaving the coast, the travellers kept at a quick pace, and Sailor
Bill and his brother had but little opportunity of holding converse
together. When the douar had been pitched for the night, the old salt
and the "young gentlemen," his companions, gathered around the man whose
experience in the miseries of Saäran slavery so far exceeded their own.

"Now, Jim," began the old man-o'-war's-man, "you must spin us the yarn
of all your cruising since you've been here. We've seen somethin' o' the
elephant since we've been cast ashore, and that's not long. I don't
wonder at you sayin' you 'ave been aboard this craft forty-three years."

"Yes, that is the correct time according to my reckoning," interrupted
Jim; "but, Bill, you don't look much older than when I saw you last. How
long ago was it?"

"About eleven years."

"Eleven years! I tell you that I've been here over forty."

"'Ow can that be?" asked Bill. "Daze it, man, you'll not be forty years
old till the fourteenth o' the next month. You 'ave lost yer senses, an'
in troth, it an't no wonder!"

"That is true, for there is nothing in the Saära to help a man keep his
reckoning. There are no seasons; and every day is as like another as two
seconds in the same minute. But surely I must have been here for more
than eleven years."

"No," answered Bill, "ye 'ave no been here only a wee bit langer than
tin; but afther all ye must 'ave suffered in that time, it is quare that
ye should a know'd me at all, at all."

"I did not know you until you spoke," rejoined Jim "Then I couldn't
doubt that it was you who stood before me, when I heard our father's
broad Scotch, our mother's Irish brogue, and the talk of the cockneys
amongst whom your earliest days were passed, all mingled together."

"You see, Master Colly," said Bill, turning to the young Scotchman. "My
brother Jim has had the advantage of being twelve years younger than I;
and when he was old enough to go to school, I was doing something to
help kape 'im there, and for all that I believe he is plased to see me."

"Pleased to see you!" exclaimed Jim. "Of course I am."

"I'm sure av it," said Bill.

"Well, then, brother, go ahead, an' spin us your yarn."

"I have no one yarn to spin," replied Jim, "for a narrative of my
adventures in the desert would consist of a thousand yarns, each giving
a description of some severe suffering or disappointment. I can only
tell you that it seems to me that I have passed many years in travelling
through the sands of the Saära, years in cultivating barley on its
borders, years in digging wells, and years in attending flocks of goats,
sheep, and other animals. I have had many masters,--all bad, and some
worse,--and I have had many cruel disappointments about regaining my
liberty. I was once within a single day's journey of Mogador, and was
then sold again and carried back into the very heart of the desert. I
have attempted two or three times to escape; but was recaptured each
time, and nearly killed for the unpardonable dishonesty of trying to rob
my master of my own person. I have often been tempted to commit suicide;
but a sort of womanly curiosity and stubbornness has prevented me. I
wished to see how long Fortune would persecute me, and I was determined
not to thwart her plans by putting myself beyond their reach. I did not
like to give in, for any one who tries to escape from trouble by killing
himself, shows that he has come off sadly worsted in the war of life."

"You are quite right," said Harry Blount; "but I hope that your hardest
battles in that war are now over. Our masters have promised to carry us
to some place where we may be ransomed by our countrymen, and you of
course will be taken along with us."

"Do not flatter yourselves with that hope," said Jim. "_I_ was amused
with it for several years. Every master I have had gave me the same
promise, and here I am yet. I did think when my late owners were saving
the stones from the wreck, that I could get them to enter the walls of
some seaport town, and that possibly they might take me along with them.
But that hope has proved as delusive as all others I have entertained
since shipwrecked on the shore of this accursed country. I believe there
are a few who are fortunate enough to regain their liberty; but the
majority of sailors cast away on the Saäran coast never have the good
fortune to get away from it. They die under the hardships and
ill-treatment to which they are exposed upon the desert--without leaving
a trace of their existence any more than the dogs or camels belonging to
their common masters.

"You have asked me to give an account of my life since I have been
shipwrecked. I cannot do that; but I shall give you an easy rule by
which you may know all about it. We will suppose you have all been three
months in the Saära, and Bill here says that I have been here ten years;
therefore I have experienced about forty times as long a period of
slavery as one of yourselves. Now, multiply the sum total of your
sufferings by forty, and you will have some idea of what I have
undergone.

"You have probably witnessed some scenes of heartless cruelty--scenes
that shocked and wounded the most sensitive feelings of your nature. I
have witnessed forty times as many. While suffering the agonies of
thirst and hunger, you may have prayed for death as a relief to your
anguish. Where such have been your circumstances once, they have been
mine for forty times.

"You may have had some bright hopes of escaping, and once more
revisiting your native land; and then have experienced the bitterness of
disappointment. In this way I have suffered forty times as much as any
one of you."

Sailor Bill and the young gentlemen,--who had been for several days
under the pleasant hallucination that they were on the high road to
freedom,--were again awakened to a true sense of their situation by the
words of a man far more experienced than they in the deceitful ways of
the desert.

Before separating for the night, the three mids learnt from Bill and his
brother that the latter had been first officer of the ship that had
brought him to the coast. They could perceive by his conversation that
he was an intelligent man,--one whose natural abilities and artificial
acquirements were far superior to those of their shipmate,--the old
man-of-war's-man.

"If such an accomplished individual," reasoned they, "has been for ten
years a slave in the Saära, unable to escape or reach any place where
his liberty might be restored, what hope is there for us?"



CHAPTER LXVII.


A LIVING STREAM.


Every hour of the journey presented some additional evidence that the
kafila was leaving the great desert behind, and drawing near a land that
might be considered fertile.

On the day after parting from the wreckers a walled town was reached,
and near it, on the sides of some of the hills, were seen growing a few
patches of barley.

At this place the caravan rested for the remainder of the day. The
camels and horses were furnished with a good supply of food, and water
drawn from deep wells. It was the best our adventurers had drunk since
being cast away on the African coast.

Next morning the journey was continued.

After they had been on the road about two hours, the old sheik and a
companion, riding in advance of the others, stopped before what seemed,
in the distance, a broad stream of water.

All hastened forward, and the Boy Slaves beheld a sight that filled them
with much surprise and considerable alarm. It was a stream,--a stream of
living creatures moving over the plain.

It was a migration of insects,--the famed locusts of Africa.

They were young ones,--not yet able to fly; and for some reason, unknown
perhaps even to themselves, they were taking this grand journey.

Their march seemed conducted in regular order, and under strict
discipline.

They formed a living moving belt of considerable breadth, the sides of
which appeared as straight as any line mathematical science could have
drawn.

Not one could be seen straggling from the main body, which was moving
along a track too narrow for their numbers,--scarce half of them having
room on the sand, while the other half were crawling along on the backs
of their _compagnons du voyage_.

Even the Arabs appeared interested in this African mystery, and paused
for a few minutes to watch the progress of the glittering stream
presented by these singular insects.

The old sheik dismounted from his camel; and with his scimitar broke the
straight line formed by the border of the moving mass--sweeping them off
to one side.

The space was instantly filled up again by those advancing from behind,
and the straight edge restored, the insects crawling onward without the
slightest deviation.

The sight was not new to Sailor Bill's brother. He informed his
companions that should a fire be kindled on their line of march, the
insects, instead of attempting to pass around it, would move right into
its midst until it should become extinguished with their dead bodies.

After amusing himself for a few moments in observing these insects, the
sheik mounted his camel, and, followed by the kafila, commenced moving
through the living stream.

A hoof could not be put down without crushing a score of the creatures;
but immediately on the hoof being lifted, the space was filled with as
many as had been destroyed!

Some of the slaves, with their naked feet, did not like wading through
this living crawling stream. It was necessary to use force to compel
them to pass over it.

After looking right and left, and seeing no end to the column of
insects, our adventurers made a rush, and ran clear across it.

At every step their feet fell with a crunching sound, and were raised
again, streaming with the blood of the mangled locusts.

The belt of the migratory insects was about sixty yards in breadth; yet,
short as was the distance, the Boy Slaves declared that it was more
disagreeable to pass over than any ten miles of the desert they had
previously traversed.

One of the blacks, determined to make the crossing as brief as possible,
started in a rapid run. When about half way through, his foot slipped,
and he fell full length amidst the crowd of creepers.

Before he could regain his feet, hundreds of the disgusting insects had
mounted upon him, clinging to his clothes, and almost smothering him by
their numbers.

Overcome by disgust, horror, and fear, he was unable to rise; and two of
his black companions were ordered to drag him out of the disagreeable
company into which he had stumbled.

After being rescued and delivered from the clutch of the locusts, it was
many minutes before he recovered his composure of mind, along with
sufficient nerve to resume his journey.

Sailor Bill had not made the crossing along with the others; and for
some time resisted all the attempts of the Arabs to force him over the
insect stream.

Two of them at length laid hold of him; and, after dragging him some
paces into the crawling crowd, left him to himself.

Being thus brought in actual contact with the insects, the old sailor
saw that the quickest way of getting out of the scrape was to cross over
to the other side.

This he proceeded to do in the least time, and with the greatest
possible noise. His paces were long, and made with wonderful rapidity;
and each time his foot came to the ground, he uttered a horrible yell,
as though it had been planted upon a sheet of red-hot iron.

Bill's brother had now so far recovered from his feigned illness, that
he was able to walk along with the Boy Slaves.

Naturally conversing about the locusts, he informed his companions, that
the year before he had been upon a part of the Saäran coast where a
cloud of these insects had been driven out to sea by a storm, and
drowned. They were afterwards washed ashore in heaps; the effluvia from
which became so offensive that the fields of barley near the shore could
not be harvested, and many hundred acres of the crop were wholly lost to
the owners.



CHAPTER LXVIII.

THE ARABS AT HOME.


Soon after encountering the locusts, the kafila came upon a well-beaten
road, running through a fertile country, where hundreds of acres of
barley could be seen growing on both sides.

That evening, for some reason unknown to the slaves, their masters did
not halt at the usual hour. They saw many walled villages, where dwelt
the proprietors of the barley fields; but hurried past them without
stopping either for water or food--although their slaves were sadly in
need of both.

In vain the latter complained of thirst, and begged for water. The only
reply to their entreaties was a harsh command to move on faster,
frequently followed by a blow.

Towards midnight, when the hopes and strength of all were nearly
exhausted, the kafila arrived at a walled village, where a gate was
opened to admit his slaves. The old sheik then informed them that they
should have plenty of food and drink, and would be allowed to rest for
two or three days in the village.

A quantity of water was then thickened with barley meal; and of this
diet they were permitted to have as much as they could consume.

It was after night when they entered the gate of the village, and
nothing could be seen. Next morning they found themselves in the centre
of a square enclosure surrounded by about twenty houses, standing within
a high wall. Flocks of sheep and goats, with a number of horses, camels,
and donkeys, were also within the inclosure.

Jim informed his companions that most of the Saäran Arabs have fixed
habitations, where they dwell the greater part of the year,--generally
walled towns, such as the one they had now entered.

The wall is intended for a protection against robbers, at the same time
that it serves as a pen to keep their flocks from straying or
trespassing on the cultivated fields during the night time.

It was soon discovered that the Arabs had arrived at their home; for as
soon as day broke, they were seen in company with their wives and
families. This accounted for their not making halt at any of the other
villages. Being so near their own, they had made an effort to reach it
without extending their journey into another day.

"I fear we are in the hands of the wrong masters for obtaining our
freedom," said Jim to his companions. "If they were traders, they might
take us farther north and sell us; but it's clear they are not! They are
graziers, farmers, and robbers, when the chance arises,--that's what
they be! While waiting for their barley to ripen, they have been on a
raiding expedition to the desert, in the hope of capturing a few slaves,
to assist them in reaping their harvest."

Jim's conjecture was soon after found to be correct. On the old sheik
being asked when he intended taking his slaves on to Swearah, he
answered:--

"Our barley is now ripe, and we must not leave it to spoil. You must
help us in the harvest, and that will enable us to go to Swearah all the
sooner."

"Do you really intend to take your slaves to Swearah?" asked the
Krooman.

"Certainly!" replied the sheik. "Have we not promised? But we cannot
leave our fields now. Bismillah! our grain must be gathered."

"It is just as I supposed," said Jim. "They will promise anything. They
do not intend taking us to Mogador at all. The same promise has been
made to me by the same sort of people a score of times."

"What shall we do?" asked Terence.

"We must do nothing," answered Jim. "We must not assist them in any way,
for the more useful we are to them the more reluctant they will be to
part with us. I should have obtained my liberty years ago, had I not
tried to gain the good-will of my Arab masters, by trying to make myself
useful to them. That was a mistake, and I can see it now. We must not
give them the slightest assistance in their barley-cutting."

"But they will compel us to help them?" suggested Colin.

"They cannot do that if we remain resolute; and I tell you all that you
had better be killed at once than submit. If we assist in their harvest,
they will find something else for us to do, and your best days, as mine
have been, will be passed in slavery! Each of you must make himself a
burden and expense to whoever owns him, and then we may be passed over
to some trader who has been to Mogador, and knows that he can make money
by taking us there to be redeemed. That is our only chance. These Arabs
don't know that we are sure to be purchased for a good price in any
large seaport town, and they will not run any risk in taking us there.
Furthermore, these men are outlaws, desert robbers, and I don't believe
that they dare enter the Moorish dominions. We must get transferred to
other hands, and the only way to do that is to refuse work."

Our adventurers agreed to be guided by Jim's counsels, although
confident that they would experience much difficulty in following them.

Early on the morning of the second day after the Arabs reached their
home, all the slaves, both white and black, were roused from their
slumbers; and after a spare breakfast of barley-gruel, were commanded to
follow their masters to the grain fields, outside the walls of the town.

"Do you want us to work?" asked Jim, addressing himself directly to the
old sheik.

"Bismillah! Yes!" exclaimed the Arab. "We have kept you too long in
idleness. What have you done, or who are you, that we should maintain
you? You must work for your living, as we do ourselves!"

"We cannot do anything on land," said Jim. "We are sailors, and have
only learnt to work on board a ship."

"By Allah, you will soon learn! Come, follow us to the barley fields!"

"No; we have all agreed to die rather than work for you! You promised to
take us to Swearah; and we will go there or die. We will not be slaves
any longer!"

Most of the Arabs, with their wives and children, had now assembled
around the white men, who were ordered instantly to move on.

"It will not do for us to say we will not or can't move on," said Jim,
speaking to his companions in English. "We must go to the field. They
can make us do that; but they can't make us work. Go quietly to the
field; but don't make yourselves useful when you get there."

This advice was followed; and the Boy Slaves soon found themselves by
the side of a large patch of barley, ready for the reaping-hook. A
sickle of French manufacture was then placed in the hands of each, and
they were instructed how to use them.

"Never mind," said Jim. "Go to work with a will, mates! We'll show them
a specimen of how reaping is done aboard ship!"

Jim proceeded to set an example by cutting the grain in a careless
manner--letting the heads fall in every direction, and then trampling
them under foot as he moved on.

The same plan was pursued by his brother Bill, the Krooman, and Harry
Blount.

In the first attempt to use the sickle, Terence was so awkward as to
fall forward and break the implement into two pieces.

Colin behaved no better: since he managed to cut one of his fingers, and
then apparently fainted away at the sight of the blood.

The forenoon was passed by the Arabs in trying to train their slaves to
the work, but in this they were sadly unsuccessful.

Curses, threats, and blows were expended upon them to no purpose, for
the Christian dogs seemed only capable of doing much harm and no good.
During the afternoon they were allowed to lie idle upon the ground, and
watch their masters cutting the barley; although this indulgence was
purchased at the expense of lacerated skins and aching bones. Nor was
this triumph without the cost of further suffering: for they were not
allowed a mouthful of food or a drop of water, although an abundance of
both had been distributed to the other laborers in the field.

All five, however, remained obstinate; withstanding hunger and thirst,
threats, cursings, and stripes,--each one disdaining to be the first to
yield to the wishes of their Arab masters.



CHAPTER LXIX.

WORK OR DIE.


That night, after being driven within the walls of the town, the white
slaves, along with their guard and the Krooman, were fastened in a large
stone building partly in ruins, that had been recently used as a
goat-pen.

They were not allowed a mouthful of food nor a drop of water, and
sentinels walked around all night to prevent them from breaking out of
their prison.

No longer targets for the beams of a blazing sun, they were partly
relieved from their sufferings; but a few handfuls of barley they had
managed to secrete and bring in from the field, proved only sufficient
to sharpen an appetite which they could devise no means of appeasing.

A raging thirst prevented them from having much sleep; and, on being
turned out next morning, and ordered back to the barley fields, weak
with hunger and want of sleep, they were strongly tempted to yield
obedience to their masters.

The black slaves had worked well the day before; and, having satisfied
their masters, had received plenty of food and drink.

Their white companions in misery saw them eating their breakfast before
being ordered to the field.

"Jim," said Sailor Bill, "I've 'alf a mind to give in. I must 'ave
somethin' to heat an' drink. I'm starvin' all over."

"Don't think of it, William," said his brother. "Unless you wish to
remain for years in slavery, as I have done, you must not yield. Our
only hope of obtaining liberty is to give the Arabs but one chance of
making anything by us,--the chance of selling us to our countrymen. They
won't let us die,--don't think it! We are worth too much for that. They
will try to make us work if they can; but we are fools if we let them
succeed."

Again being driven to the field, another attempt was made by the Arabs
to get some service out of them.

"We can do nothing now," said Jim to the old sheik; "we are dying with
hunger and thirst. Our life has always been on the sea, and we can do
nothing on land."

"There is plenty of food for those who earn it," rejoined the sheik;
"and we cannot give those food who do not deserve it."

"Then give us some water."

"Allah forbid! We are not your servants to carry water for you."

All attempts to make the white slaves perform their task having failed,
they were ordered to sit down in the hot sun; where they were tantalized
with the sight of the food and water of which they were not permitted to
taste.

During the forenoon of the day, all the eloquence Jim could command was
required to prevent his brother from yielding. The old man-o'-war's-man
was tortured by extreme thirst, and was once or twice on the eve of
selling himself in exchange for a cooling draught.

Long years of suffering on the desert had inured Jim to its hardships;
and not so strongly tempted as the others, it was easier for him to
remain firm.

Since falling into the company of his countrymen, his hope of freedom
had revived, and he was determined to make a grand effort to regain it.

He knew that five white captives were worth the trouble of taking to
some seaport frequented by English ships; and he believed, if they
refrained from making themselves useful, there was a prospect of their
being thus disposed of.

Through his influence, therefore, the refractory slaves remained staunch
in their resolution to abstain from work.

Their masters now saw that they were better off in the field than in the
prison. They could not be prevented from obtaining a few heads of the
barley, which they greedily ate, nor from obtaining a little moisture by
chewing the roots of the weeds growing around them.

As soon as this was noticed, two of the Arabs were sent to conduct them
back to the place where they had been confined on the night before.

It was with the utmost exertion that Sailor Bill and Colin were able to
reach the town; while the others, with the exception of Jim, were in a
very weak and exhausted state. Hunger and thirst were fast subduing
them--in body, if not in spirit.

On reaching the door of the goat-pen, they refused to go in, all
clamoring loudly for food and water.

Their entreaties were met with the declaration: that it was the will of
God that those who would not work should suffer starvation.

"Idleness," argued their masters, "is always punished by ill-health";
and they wound up by expressing their thanks that such was the case.

It was not until the two Arabs had obtained the assistance of several of
the women and boys of the village that they succeeded in getting the
white slaves within the goat-pen.

"Jim, I tell you I can't stand this any longer," said Sailor Bill. "Call
an' say to 'em as I gives in, and will work to-morrow, if they will let
me have water."

"And so will I," said Terence. "There is nothing in the future to
compensate for this suffering, and I can endure it no longer."

"Nor will I," exclaimed Harry; "I must have something to eat and drink
immediately. We shall all be punished in the next world for self-murder
in this unless we yield."

"Courage! patience!" exclaimed Jim. "It is better to suffer for a few
hours more than to remain all our lives in slavery."

"What do I care for the future?" muttered Terence; "the present is
everything. He is a fool who kills himself to-day to keep from being
hungry ten years after. I will try to work to-morrow, if I live so
long."

"Yes, call an' tell 'em, Jem, as 'ow we gives in, an' they'll send us
some refreshment," entreated the old sailor. "It ain't in human nature
to die of starvation if one can 'elp it."

But neither Jim nor the Krooman would communicate to the Arabs the
wishes of their companions; and the words and signals the old sailor
made to attract the attention of those outside were unheeded.

Early in the evening, both Colin and the Krooman also expressed
themselves willing to sacrifice the future for the present.

"We have nothing to do with the future," said Colin; in answer to Jim's
entreaties that they should remain firm. "The future is the care of God,
and we are only concerned with the present. We ought to promise anything
if we can obtain food by it."

"I tink so too now," said the Krooman; "for it am worse than sure dat if
we starve now we no be slaves bom by."

"They will not quite starve us to death," said Jim. "I have told you
before that we are worth too much for that. If we will not work they
will sell us, and we may reach Mogador. If we do work, we may stay here
for years. I entreat you to hold out one day longer."

"I cannot," answered one.

"Nor I," exclaimed another.

"Let us first get something to eat, and then take our liberty by force,"
said Terence, "I fancy that if I had a drink of water, I could whip all
the Arabs on earth."

"And so could I," said Colin.

"And I, too," added Harry Blount.

Sailor Bill had sunk upon the floor, hardly conscious of what the others
were saying; but, partly aroused by the word water, repeated it,
muttering, in a hoarse whisper, "Water! Water!"

The Krooman and the three youths joined in the cry; and then all, as
loudly as their parched throats would permit, shouted the word, "Water!
Water!"

The call for water was apparently unheeded by the Arab men, but it was
evidently music to many of the children of the village, for it attracted
them to the door of the goat-pen, around which they clustered, listening
with strong expressions of delight.

Through a long night of indescribable agony, the cry of "Water! Water!"
was often repeated in the pen, and at each time in tones fainter and
more supplicating than before.

The cry at length became changed from a demand to a piteous prayer.



CHAPTER LXX.

VICTORY!


Next morning, when the Arabs opened the door of the prison, Sailor Bill
and Colin were found unable to rise; and the old salt seemed quite
unconscious of all efforts made to awaken his attention.

Not till then did Jim's resolution begin to give way. He would now
submit to save them from further suffering; but although knowing it was
the wish of all that he should tender their submission on the terms the
Arabs required, for a while be delayed doing so, in order to discover
the course their masters designed adopting towards them.

"Are you Christian dogs willing to earn your food now?" inquired the old
sheik, as he entered the goat-pen.

Faint and weak with hunger, nearly mad with thirst, alarmed for the
condition of his brother, and pitying the agony of the others, Jim was
about to answer the sheik's question in the affirmative; but there was
something in the tone in which the question had been put, that
determined him to refrain for a little longer.

The earthly happiness of six men might depend upon the next word he
should utter, and that word he should not speak without some
deliberation.

With an intellect sharpened by torture, Jim turned his gaze from the old
sheik upon several other Arabs that had come near.

He could see that they had arrived at some decision amongst themselves,
as to what they should do, and that they did not seem much interested in
the ultimatum demanded by the sheik's inquiry.

This lack of excitement or interest did not look like further starvation
and death; and in place of telling the Arabs that they were willing to
submit, Jim informed the old sheik that all were determined to die
rather than remain slaves.

"There is not one of us that wishes to live," he added, "except for the
purpose of seeing our native land again. Our bodies are now weak, but
our spirits are still strong. We will die!"

On receiving this answer, the Arabs departed, leaving the Christians in
the pen.

The Krooman, who had been listening during the interview, then faintly
called after them to return; but he was stopped by Jim, who still
entertained the hope that his firmness would yet be rewarded.

Half an hour passed, and Jim began to doubt again. He might not have
correctly interpreted the expressions he had noted upon the faces of the
Arabs.

"What did you tell them?" muttered Terence. "Did you tell them that we
were willing to work, if they would give us water?"

"Yes--certainly!" answered Jim, now beginning to regret that he had not
tendered their submission before it might be too late.

"Then why do they not come and relieve us?" asked Terence, in a
whisper--hoarse from despair.

Jim vouchsafed no answer; and the Krooman seemed in too much mental and
bodily anguish to heed what had been said.

Shortly after, Jim could hear the flocks being driven out of the town;
and looking through a small opening in the wall of the pen, he could see
some of the Arabs going out towards the barley fields.

Could it be that he had been mistaken--that the Arabs were going to
apply the screw of starvation for another day? Alarmed by this
conjecture, he strove to hail them, and bring them back; but the effort
only resulted in a hoarse whisper.

"May God forgive me!" thought he. "My brother, as well as all the
others, will die before night! I have murdered them, and perhaps
myself!"

Driven frantic with the thought, frenzy furnished him with the will and
strength to speak out.

His voice could now be heard, for the walls of the stone building rang
with the shouts of a madman!

He assailed the door with such force that the structure gave way, and
Jim rushed out, prepared to make any promises or terms with their
masters, to save the lives he had endangered by his obstinacy.

His submission was not required: for on looking out, two men and three
or four boys were seen coming towards the pen, bearing bowls of water,
and dishes filled with barley-gruel.

Jim had conquered in the strife between master and man. The old sheik
had given orders for the white slaves to be fed.

Jim's frenzy immediately subsided into an excitement of a different
nature.

Seizing a calabash of water, he ran to his brother Bill; and raising him
into a sitting posture, he applied the vessel to the man-o'-war's-man's
lips.

Bill had not strength even to drink, and the water had to be poured down
his throat.

Not until all of his companions had drunk, and swallowed a few mouthfuls
of the barley-gruel, did Jim himself partake of anything.

The effect of food and water in restoring the energies of a starving man
is almost miraculous; and he now congratulated his companions on the
success of his scheme.

"It is all right!" he exclaimed. "We have conquered them! We shall not
have to reap their harvest! We shall be fed, fattened, and sold; and
perhaps be taken to Mogador. We should thank God for bringing us all
safely through the trial. Had we yielded, there would have been no hope
of ever regaining our liberty!"



CHAPTER LXXI.

SOLD AGAIN.


Two days elapsed, during which time our adventurers were served with
barley-gruel twice a day. They were allowed a sufficient quantity of
water, with only the trouble of bringing it from the well, and enduring
a good deal of insult and abuse from the women and children whom they
chanced to meet on their way.

The second Krooman, who, in a moment of weakness inspired by the torture
of thirst, had assisted the other slaves at their task, now tried in
vain to get off from working. He came each evening to the pen to
converse with his countryman; and at these meetings bitterly expressed
his regret that he had submitted.

There was no hope for him now, for he had given proof that he could be
made useful to his owners.

On the evening of the second day after they had been relieved from
starvation, the white slaves were visited in their place of confinement
by three Arabs they had not before seen.

These were well-armed, well-dressed, fine-looking fellows, having
altogether a more respectable appearance than any inhabitants of the
desert they had yet encountered.

Jim immediately entered into conversation with them; and learned that
they were merchants, travelling with a caravan; and that they had
claimed the hospitality of the town for that night.

They were willing to purchase slaves; and had visited the pen to examine
those their hosts were offering for sale.

"You are just the men we are most anxious to see," said Jim, in the
Arabic language, which, during his long residence in the country, he had
become acquainted with, and could speak fluently. "We want some merchant
to buy us, and take us to Mogador, where we may find friends to ransom
us."

"I once bought two slaves," rejoined one of the merchants, "and at great
expense took them to Mogador. They told me that their consul would be
sure to redeem them; but I found that they had no consul there. They
were not redeemed; and I had to bring them away again,--having all the
trouble and expense of a long journey."

"Were they Englishmen?" asked Jim.

"No: Spaniards."

"I thought so. Englishmen would certainly have been ransomed."

"That is not so certain," replied the merchant; "the English may not
always have a consul in Mogador to buy up his countrymen."

"We do not care whether there is one or not!" answered Jim. "One of the
young fellows you see here has an uncle--a rich merchant in Mogador, who
will ransom not only him, but all of his friends. The three young men
you see are officers of an English ship-of-war. They have rich fathers
in England,--all of them grand sheiks,--and they were learning to be
captains of war-ships, when they were lost on this coast. The uncle of
one of them in Mogador will redeem the whole party of us."

"Which is he who has the rich uncle?" inquired one of the Arabs.

Jim pointed to Harry Blount, saying, "That is the youngster. His uncle
owns many great vessels, that come every year to Swearah, laden with
rich cargoes."

"What is the name of this uncle?"

To give an appearance of truth to his story, Jim knew that it was
necessary for some of the others to say something that would confirm it;
and turning towards Harry, he muttered, "Master Blount, you are expected
to say something--only two or three words--any thing you like!"

"For God's sake, get them to buy us!" said Harry, in complying with the
singular request made to him.

Believing that the name he must give to the Arabs should something
resemble in sound the words Harry had spoken, Jim told them that the
name of the Mogador merchant was "For God's sake buy us."

After repeating these words two or three times, the Arabs were able to
pronounce them--after a fashion.

"Ask the young man," commanded one of them, "if he is sure the merchant
'For God's sake bias' will ransom you all?"

"When I am done speaking to you," said Jim, whispering to Harry, "say
Yes! nod your head, and then utter some words!"

"Yes!" exclaimed Harry, giving his head an abrupt inclination. "I think
I know what you are trying to do, Jim. All right!"

"Yes!" said Jim, turning to the Arab; "the young fellow says that he is
quite certain his uncle will buy us all. Our friends at home will repay
him."

"But how about the black man?" asked one of the merchants. "He is not an
Englishman?"

"No; but he speaks English. He has sailed in English ships, and will
certainly be redeemed with the rest."

The Arabs now retired from the pen, after promising to call and see our
adventurers early in the morning.

After their departure, Jim related the whole of the conversation to his
companions, which had the effect of inspiring them with renewed hope.

"Tell them anything," said Harry, "and promise anything; for I think
there is no doubt of our being ransomed, if taken to Mogador, although
I'm sure I have no uncle there, and don't know whether there's any
English consul at that port."

"To get to Mogador is our only chance," said Jim; "and I wish I were
guilty of no worse crime than using deception, to induce some one to
take us there. I have a hope that these men will buy us on speculation;
and if lies will induce them to do so, they shall have plenty of them
from me. And you," continued he, turning to the Krooman, "you must not
let them know that you speak their language, or they will not give a
dollar for you. When they come here in the morning, you must converse
with the rest of us in English,--so that they may have reason to think
that you will also be redeemed."

Next morning, the merchants again came to the pen, and the slaves, at
their request, arose and walked out to the open space in front, where
they could be better examined.

After becoming satisfied that all were capable of travelling, one of the
Arabs, addressing Jim, said:--

"We are going to purchase you, if you satisfy us that you are not trying
to deceive us, and agree to the terms we offer. Tell the nephew of the
English merchant that we must be paid one hundred and fifty Spanish
dollars for each of you."

Jim made the communication to Harry; who at once consented that this sum
should be paid.

"What is the name of his uncle?" asked one of the Arabs. "Let the young
man tell us."

"They wish to know the name of your uncle," said Jim, turning to Harry.
"The name I told you yesterday. You must try and remember it; for I must
not be heard repeating it to you."

"For God's sake buy us!" exclaimed Harry.

The Arabs looked at each other with an expression that seemed to say,
"It's all right!"

"Now," said one of the party, "I must tell you what will be the penalty,
if we be deceived. If we take you to Mogador, and find that there is no
one there to redeem you, if the young man, who says he has an uncle, be
not telling the truth, then we shall cut his throat, and bring the rest
of you back to the desert, to be sold into perpetual slavery. Tell him
that."

"They are going to buy us," said Jim to Harry Blount; "but if we are not
redeemed in Mogador, you are to have your throat cut for deceiving
them."

"All right!" said Harry, smiling at the threat, "that will be better
than living any longer a slave in the Saära."

"Now look at the Krooman"; suggested Sailor Bill, "and say something
about him."

Harry taking the hint, turned towards the African.

"I hope," said he, "that they will purchase the poor fellow; and that we
may get him redeemed. After the many services he has rendered us, I
should not like to leave him behind."

"He consents that you may kill the Krooman, if we are not ransomed";
said Jim, speaking to the Arab merchants, "but he does not like to
promise more than one hundred dollars for a negro. His uncle might
refuse to pay more."

For some minutes the Arabs conversed with each other in a low tone; and
then one of them replied, "It is well. We will take one hundred dollars
for the negro. And now get ready for the road. We shall start with you
to-morrow morning by daybreak."

The merchants then went off to complete their bargain with the old
sheik, and make other arrangements for their departure.

For a few minutes the white slaves kept uttering exclamations of delight
at the prospect of being once more restored to liberty. Jim then gave
them a translation of what he had said about the Krooman.

"I know the Arab character so well," said he, "that I did not wish to
agree to all their terms without a little haggling, which prevents them
from entertaining the suspicion that we are trying to deceive them.
Besides, as the Krooman is not an English subject, there may be great
difficulty in getting him redeemed; and we should therefore bargain for
him as cheaply as possible."

Not long after the Arab merchants had taken their departure from the
pen, a supply of food and drink was served out to them: which, from its
copiousness, proved that it was provided at the expense of their new
owners.

This beginning augured well for their future treatment; and that night
was spent by the Boy Slaves in a state of contentment and repose,
greater than they had experienced since first setting foot on the
inhospitable shores of the Saära.



CHAPTER LXXII.

ONWARD ONCE MORE.


Early next morning our adventurers were awakened and ordered to prepare
for the road.

The Arab merchants had purchased from their late hosts three donkeys,
upon which the white slaves were allowed to ride in turns. Harry Blount,
however, was distinguished from the rest. As the nephew of the rich
merchant, "For God's sake buy us!" he was deemed worthy of higher favor,
and was permitted to have a camel.

In vain he protested against being thus _elevated_ above his companions.
The Arabs did not heed his remonstrances, and at a few words from Jim he
discontinued them.

"They think that we are to be released from slavery by the money of your
relative," said Jim, "and you must do nothing to undeceive them. Not to
humor them might awaken their suspicions. Besides, as you are the
responsible person of the party,--the one whose throat is to be cut if
the money be not found,--you are entitled to a little distinction, as a
compensation for extra anxiety."

The Krooman, who had joined the slaves in cutting the grain, was in the
field at work when the merchants moved off, and was not present to bid
farewell to his more fortunate countryman.

After travelling about twelve miles through a fertile country, much of
which was in cultivation, the Arab merchants arrived at a large
reservoir of water, where they encamped for the night.

The water was in a stone tank, placed so as to catch all the rain that
fell in a long narrow valley, gradually descending from some hills to
the northward.

Jim had visited the place before, and told his companions that the tank
had been constructed by a man whose memory was much respected, and who
had died nearly a hundred years ago.

During the night the Krooman, who had been left behind, entered the
encampment, confident in the belief that he had escaped from his
taskmasters.

At sunset he had contrived to conceal himself among the barley sheaves
until his masters were out of sight, when he had started off on the
track taken by the Arab merchants.

He was not allowed long indulgence in his dream of liberty. On the
following morning, as the kafila was about to continue its journey,
three men were seen approaching on swift camels; and shortly after Rais
Abdallah Yessed, and two of his followers rode up.

They were in pursuit of the runaway Krooman, and in great rage at the
trouble which he had caused them. So anxious were the Boy Slaves that
the poor fellow should continue along with them, that, for their sake,
the Arab merchants made a strenuous effort to purchase him; but Rais
Abdallah obstinately refused to sell him at anything like a reasonable
price. The Krooman had given proof that he could be very useful in the
harvest-field; and a sum much greater than had been paid for any of the
others, was demanded for him. He was worth more to his present owners
than what the Arab merchants could afford to give; and was therefore
dragged back to the servitude from which he had hoped to escape.

"You can see now, that I was right," said Jim. "Had we consented to cut
their harvest, we should never have had an opportunity of regaining our
liberty. Our labor for a single year would have been worth as much to
them as the price they received for us, and we should have been held in
perpetual bondage."

Jim's companions could perceive the truth of this observation, but not
without being conscious that their good fortune was, on their part,
wholly undeserved, and that had it not been for him, they would have
yielded to the wishes of their late masters.

After another march, the merchants made halt near some wells, around
which a large Arab encampment was found already established,--the flocks
and herds wandering over the adjacent plain. Here our adventurers had an
opportunity of observing some of the manners and customs of this nomadic
people.

Here, for the first time, they witnessed the Arab method of making
butter.

A goat's skin, nearly filled with the milk of camels, asses, sheep, and
goats, all mixed together, was suspended to the ridge pole of a tent,
and then swung to and fro by a child, until the butter was produced. The
milk was then poured off, and the butter clawed out of the skin by the
black dirty fingers of the women.

The Arabs allege that they were the first people who discovered the art
of making butter,--though the discovery does not entitle them to any
great credit, since they could scarce have avoided making it. The
necessity of carrying milk in these skin bags, on a journey, must have
conducted them to the discovery. The agitation of the fluid, while being
transported on the backs of the camels, producing the result, naturally
suggested the idea of bringing it about by similar means when they were
not travelling.

At this place the slaves were treated to some barley-cakes, and were
allowed a little of the butter; and this, notwithstanding the filthy
mode in which it had been prepared, appeared to them the most delicious
they had ever tasted.

During the evening, the three merchants, along with several other Arabs,
seated themselves in a circle; when a pipe was lit and passed round from
one to another. Each would take a long draw, and then hand the pipe to
his left-hand neighbor.

While thus occupied, they kept up an animated conversation, in which the
word "Swearah" was often pronounced. Swearah of course meant "Mogador."

"They are talking about us," said Jim, "and we must learn for what
purpose. I am afraid there is something wrong. Krooman!" he continued,
addressing himself to the black, "they don't know that you understand
their language. Lie down near them, and pretend to be asleep; but take
note of every word they say. If I go up to them they will drive me
away."

The Krooman did as desired; and carelessly sauntering near the circle,
appeared to be searching for a soft place on which to lay himself for
the night.

This he discovered some seven or eight paces from the spot where the
Arabs were seated.

"I have been disappointed about obtaining my freedom so many times,"
muttered Jim, "that I can scarce believe I shall ever succeed. Those
fellows are talking about Mogador; and I don't like their looks. Hark!
what is that about 'more than you can get in Swearah!' I believe these
new Arabs are making an offer to buy us. If so, may their prophets curse
them!"



CHAPTER LXXIII.

ANOTHER BARGAIN.


The conversation amongst the Arabs was kept up until a late hour; and
during the time it continued, our adventurers were impatiently awaiting
the return of the Krooman.

He came at length, after the Arabs had retired to their tents; and all
gathered around him, eager to learn what he had heard.

"I find out too much," said he, in answer to their inquiries; "too much,
and no much good."

"What was it?"

"Two of you be sold to-morrow."

"What two?"

"No one know. One man examine us all in the morning, but take only two."

After suffering a long lesson teaching the virtue of patience, they
learnt from the Krooman that one of those who had been conversing with
their masters was a grazier, owning large droves of cattle; and that he
had lately been to Swearah.

He had told the merchants that they would not be able to get a large
price for their slaves in that place; and that the chances were much
against their making more than the actual expenses incurred in so long a
journey. He assured the Arab merchants that no Christian consul or
foreign merchant in Mogador would pay a dollar more for redeeming six
slaves than what they could be made to pay for two or three; that they
were not always willing or prepared to pay anything; and that whenever
they did redeem a slave, they did not consider his value, but only the
time and expense that had been incurred in bringing him to the place.

Under the influence of these representations, the Arab merchants had
agreed to sell two of their white slaves to the grazier,--thinking they
would get as much for the remaining four as they would by taking all six
to the end of the journey.

The owner of the herds was to make his choice in the morning.

"I thought there was a breaker ahead," exclaimed Jim, after the Krooman
had concluded his report. "We must not be separated except by liberty or
death. Our masters must take us all to Mogador. There is trouble before
us yet; but we must be firm, and overcome it. Firmness has saved us
once, and may do so again."

After all had promised to be guided in the coming emergency by Jim, they
laid themselves along the ground, and sought rest in sleep.

Next morning, while they were eating their breakfast, they were visited
by the grazier who was expected to make choice of two of their number.

"Which is the one who speaks Arabic?" he inquired from one of the
merchants.

Jim was pointed out, and was at once selected as one of the two to be
purchased.

"Tell 'im to buy me, too, Jim," said Bill, "We'll sail in company, you
and I, though I don't much like partin' with the young gentlemen here."

"You shall not part either with them or me, if I can help it," answered
Jim; "but we must expect some torture. Let all bear it like devils; and
don't give in. That's our only chance!"

Glancing his eyes over the other slaves, the grazier selected Terence as
the second for whom he was willing to pay a price.

His terms having been accepted by the merchants, they were about
concluding the bargain, when they were accosted by Jim.

He assured them that he and his companions were determined to die,
before they should be separated,--that none of them would do any work if
retained in slavery,--and that all were determined to be taken to
Swearah.

The merchants and the buyer only smiled at this interruption; and went
on with the negotiation.

In vain did Jim appeal to their cupidity,--reminding them that the
merchant, "for God's sake bias," would pay a far higher price for
himself and his companions.

His arguments and entreaties failed to change their determination,--the
bargain was concluded; and Jim and Terence were made over to their new
master.

The merchants then mounted their camels, and ordered the other four to
follow them.

Harry Blount, Colin, and Sailor Bill answered this command by sulkily
sitting down upon the sand.

Another command from the merchants was given in sharp tones that
betrayed their rising wrath.

"Obey them!" exclaimed Jim. "Go on; and Master Terence and I will follow
you. We'll stand the brunt of the battle. They shall not hold me here
alive!"

Colin and Bill each mounted a donkey, and Harry his camel--the Arab
merchants seeming quite satisfied at the result of their slight
exhibition of anger.

Jim and Terence attempted to follow them; but their new master was
prepared for this; and, at a word of command, several of his followers
seized hold of and fast bound both of them.

Jim's threat that they should not hold him alive, had thus proved but an
idle boast.

Harry, Colin, and Bill, now turned back, dismounted, and showed their
determination to remain with their companions, by sitting down alongside
of them.

"These Christian dogs do not wish for liberty!" exclaimed one of the
merchants. "Allah forbid that we should force them to accept it. Who
will buy them?"

These words completely upset all Jim's plans. He saw that he was
depriving the others of the only opportunity they might ever have of
obtaining their liberty.

"Go on, go on!" he exclaimed. "Make no further resistance. It is
possible they may take you to Mogador. Do not throw away the chance."

"We are not goin' to lave you, Jim," said Bill, "not even for
liberty,--leastways, I'm not. Don't you be afeerd of that!"

"Of course we will not, unless we are forced to do so," added Harry.
"Have you not said that we must keep together?"

"Have you not all promised to be guided by me?" replied Jim. "I tell you
now to make no more resistance. Go on with them if you wish ever to be
free!"

"Jim knows what he is about," interposed Colin; "let us obey him."

With some reluctance, Harry and Bill were induced to mount again; but
just as they were moving away, they were recalled by Jim, who told them
not to leave; and that all must persevere in the determination not to be
separated.

"The man has certainly gone mad," reflected Harry Blount, as he turned
back once more. "We must no longer be controlled by him; but Terence
must not be left behind. We cannot forsake _him_."

Again the three dismounted, and returning to the spot where Jim and
Terence lay fast bound along the sand, sat determinedly down beside
them.



CHAPTER LXXIV.

MORE TORTURE.


The sudden change of purpose and the counter-orders given by Jim were
caused by something he had just heard while listening to the
conversation of the Arabs.

Seeing that the merchants, rather than have any unnecessary trouble with
them, were disposed to sell them all, Jim had been unwilling to deprive
his brother and the others of an opportunity of obtaining their freedom.
For this reason had he entreated them to leave Terence and himself to
their fate.

But just as he had prevailed on Harry and his companion to go quietly,
he learnt from the Arabs that the man who had purchased Terence and
himself refused to have any more of them; and also that the other Arabs
present were either unable or unwilling to buy them.

The merchants, therefore, would have to take them farther before they
could dispose of them.

In Jim's mind then revived the hope that, by opposing the wishes of his
late masters, he and Terence might be bought back again and taken on to
Mogador.

It was this hope that had induced him to recall his companions after
urging them to depart.

A few words explained his apparently strange conduct to Harry and Colin,
and they promised to resist every attempt made to take them any farther
unless all should go in company.

The merchants in vain commanded and entreated that the Christian dogs
should move on. They used threats, and then resorted to blows.

Harry, to whom they had hitherto shown much respect, was beaten until
his scanty garments were saturated with blood.

Unwilling to see others suffering so much torture unsupported by any
selfish desire, Jim again counselled Harry and the others to yield
obedience to their masters.

In this counsel he was warmly seconded by Terence.

But Harry declared his determination not to desert his old shipmate
Colin, and Bill remained equally firm under the torture; while the
Krooman, knowing that his only chance of liberty depended on remaining
true to the white slaves, and keeping in their company, could not be
made to yield.

Perceiving that all his entreaties--addressed to his brother, Harry, and
Colin--could not put an end to the painful scene he was compelled to
witness, Jim strove to effect some purpose by making an appeal to his
late masters.

"Buy us back, and take us all to Swearah as you promised," said he. "If
you do so, we will go cheerfully as we were doing before. I tell you,
you will be well paid for your trouble."

One of the merchants, placing some confidence in the truth of this
representation, now offered to buy Jim and Terence on his own account;
but their new master refused to part with his newly-acquired property.

A crowd of men, women, and children had now gathered around the spot;
and from all sides were heard shouts of "Kill the obstinate Christian
'dogs.' How dare they resist the will of true believers!"

This advice was given by those who had no pecuniary interest in the
chattels in question; but the merchants, who had invested a large sum in
the purchase of the white slaves, had no idea of making such a sacrifice
for the gratification of a mere passion.

There was but one way for them to overcome the difficulty that had so
unexpectedly presented itself. This was to separate the slaves by force,
taking the four along with them; and leaving the other two to the
purchaser who would not revoke his bargain.

To accomplish this, the assistance of the bystanders was required and
readily obtained.

Harry was first seized and placed on the back of his camel, to which he
was firmly bound.

Colin, Bill, and the Krooman were each set astride of a donkey, and then
made fast by having their feet tied under the animal's belly.

For a small sum the merchants then engaged two of the Arabs to accompany
them and guard the white slaves to the frontier of the Moorish empire, a
distance of two days' journey.

While the party was about to move away from the spot, one of the
merchants, addressing himself to Jim, made the following observations.

"Tell the young man, the nephew of the merchant, 'For God's sake bias,'
that since we have started for Swearah in the belief that his story is
true, we shall now take him there whether he is willing or not, and if
he has in anyway deceived us, he shall surely die."

"He has not deceived you," said Jim, "take him and the others there, and
you will certainly be paid."

"Then why do they not go willingly?"

"Because they do not wish to leave their friends."

"Ungrateful dogs! cannot they be thankful for their own good fortune? Do
they take us for slaves, that we should do their will?"

While the conversation was going on, the other two merchants had headed
their animals to the road; and in a minute after Harry Blount and Colin
had parted with their old messmate Terence, without a hope of ever
meeting him again.



CHAPTER LXXV.

EN ROUTE.


And now away for the Moorish frontier.

Away,--trusting that the last hasty promise of the merchant to test
their earnest story, and yield to the importunate desires which they had
so long cherished, might not be unfulfilled.

Away,--out into the desert again; into that broad, barren wilderness of
sand, stretching wearily on as far as eye could reach, and beyond the
utmost limit of human steps, where the wild beasts almost fear to tread.

Away,--under the glare of the tropic sun, whose torrid beams fall from
heavens that glow like hot walls of brass, and beat down through an
atmosphere whose faint undulations in the breath of the desert wind ebb
and flow over the parched travellers, like waves of a fiery sea; under a
sun that seems to grow ever larger and brighter as the tired eyes, sick
with beholding its yellow splendor overflowing all the world, yet turn
toward it their fascinated gaze, and faint into burning dryness at its
sight.

Away,--from the coolness of city walls, and the dark shadows of narrow,
high-built streets, where the sunlight comes only at the height of noon,
where men hide within doors as the hot hours draw nigh, and rest in
silent chambers, or drowse away the time with _tchibouque_ or
_narghileh_, whose softened odor of the rich Eastern tobacco floats up
through perfumed waters and tubes of aromatic woods to leisurely lips,
and curls in dim wreaths before restful eyelids half dropping to repose.

Away,--from the association of men in street, lane, bazaar, and
market-place. No very profitable or happy association for the poor
captives, one might think; and yet not so. For in every group of
bystanders, or bevy of passers, they perchance might see him who should
prove their angel of deliverance,--a kindly merchant, a new speculator,
or even, by some event of gracious fortune, a countryman or a friend.

Away,--from all that they had borne and hoped, and borne and seen and
suffered, into the desert whose paths lay invisible to them, mapped out
in the keen intellects of their guides and guards, who read the
streaming sand of Saära as sailors read the wilds of sweeping seas, but
whose dusky faces, as inscrutable as the barren wastes, revealed no
trace of the secret of the path they led,--whether indeed the great
Moorish Empire were their destination, or whether they turned their
steps to some unknown and untried goal.

Away,--from the hum of business, from the gossip of idlers and the staid
speech of a city into the silence of the vast desolation wherein they
moved, the only reasoning, thinking beings it contained. Silence all
around, unbroken save by the smothered tread of the beasts in their
little train, the shouts of the drivers, the chattering of the
attendants, the rattling of harness and burdens, and the soft sough of
the sand as it sank back into the hot level from which the passing hoofs
had disturbed it.

Away, away,--and who shall attempt to paint the feelings of the captives
as their wanderings began again? It would need a brilliant pen to convey
the sensations with which the _voyageur_, eager for scenes of adventure
and fresh from the hived-up haunts of civilization, would enter upon a
desert jaunt, to whom all was full of novelty and interest, whose
companions were subjects for curious study, speaking in accents the
unfamiliar Oriental cadence of which fell pleasantly upon his ear, and
who found in every hour some fresh cause for wonder or pleasure. But a
pen of marvellous power and pathos must be invoked to portray the
mingled emotions that swayed in swift succession the minds of our Boy
Slaves! No charm existed for them in the strangeness of desert scenery,
Arab comradeship, and the murmur of Eastern tongues; they had long
passed the time for that, while their bitter familiarity with all these
made even a deep revulsion of feeling in their sorely tried souls. Hope,
fear, doubt, fatigue, anxious yearning, and vague despair,--all in turn
swept through their thoughts, even as the dust of their pitiless pathway
swept over their scorched faces, and covered with effacing monotony
every vestige of their passage. Mine is no such potent pen, and so let
us leave them, bound to their beasts of burden, going down from the
abodes of men into the depths again; and so let us leave them,
journeying ever onward,--away, away!



CHAPTER LXXVI.

HOPE DEFERRED.


For the first hour of their journey, Harry, Colin, and Sailor Bill, were
borne along fast bound upon the backs of their animals. So disagreeable
did they find this mode of locomotion, that the Krooman was requested to
inform their masters, that they were willing to accompany them without
further opposition, if allowed the freedom of their limbs, this was the
first occasion on which the Krooman had made known to the Arab merchants
that he could speak their language.

After receiving a few curses and blows for having so long concealed his
knowledge of it, the slaves were unbound, and the animals they bestrode
were driven along in advance of the others, while the two hired guards
were ordered to keep a short watch over them.

The journey was continued until a late hour of the night; when they
reached the gate of a high wall enclosing a small town.

Here a long parley ensued, and at first the party seemed likely to be
turned back upon their steps to pass the night in the desert, but at
last the guardians of the village, being satisfied with the
representations of the Arabs, unbarred the portals and let them enter.

After the slaves had been conducted inside, and the gate fastened behind
them, their masters, relieved of all anxiety about losing their
property, accepted the hospitality of the sheik of the village, and took
their departure for his house, directing only that the white slaves
should be fed.

After the latter had eaten a hearty meal, consisting of barley-bread and
milk; they were conducted to a pen, which they were told was to be their
sleeping-place, and there they passed the greater part of the night in
fighting fleas.

Never before had either of them encountered these insects, either so
large in size or of so keen appetites.

It was but at the hour at which their journey should have been resumed,
that they forgot their hopes and cares in the repose of sleep. Weary in
body and soul, they slept on till a late hour; and when aroused to
consciousness by an Arab bringing some food, they were surprised to see
that the sun was high up in the heavens.

Why had they not been awakened before?

Why this delay?

In the mind of each was an instinctive fear that there must be something
wrong,--that some other obstacle had arisen, blocking up their road to
freedom. Hours passed, and their masters came not near them.

They remained in much anxiety, vainly endeavoring to surmise what had
caused the interruption to their journey.

Knowing that the merchants had expressed an intention to conduct them to
Mogador as soon as possible, they could not doubt but what the delay
arose from some cause affecting their own welfare.

Late in the afternoon they were visited by their masters; and in that
interview their worst fears were more than realized.

By the aid of the Krooman, one of the merchants informed Harry that they
had been deceived,--that the sheik, of whose hospitality they had been
partaking, had often visited Swearah, and was acquainted with all the
foreign residents there. He had told them that there was no one of the
name "For God sake byas."

He had assured them that they were being imposed upon; and that by
taking the white slaves to Swearah, they would certainly lose them.

"We shall not kill you," said one of the masters to Harry, "for we have
not had the trouble of carrying you the whole distance; and besides, we
should be injuring ourselves. We shall take you all to the borders of
the desert, and there sell you for what you will fetch."

Harry told the Krooman to inform his masters that he had freely pledged
his existence on the truth of the story he had told them; that he
certainly had an uncle and friend in Mogador, who would redeem them all;
but that, should his uncle not be in Swearah at the time they should
arrive there, it would make no difference, as they would certainly be
ransomed by the English Consul. "Tell them," added Harry, "that if they
will take us to Swearah, and we are not ransomed as I promised, they
shall be welcome to take my life. I will then willingly die. Tell them
not to sell us until they have proved my words false; and not to injure
themselves and us by trusting too much to the words of another."

To this communication the merchants made reply:--That they had been told
that slaves brought from the desert into the Empire of Morocco could,
and sometimes did, claim the protection of the government, which set
them free without paying anything; and those who were at the expense of
bringing them obtained nothing for their trouble.

One of the merchants, whose name was Bo Musem, seemed inclined to listen
with some favor to the representations of Harry; but he was overruled by
the other two, so that all his assertions about the wealth of his
parents at home, and the immense worth he and his comrades were to this
country, as officers in its navy, failed to convince his masters that
they would be redeemed.

The merchants at length went away, leaving Harry and Colin in an agony
of despair; while Sailor Bill and the Krooman seemed wholly indifferent
as to their future fate. The prospect of being again taken to the
desert, seemed to have so benumbed the intellect of both, as to leave
them incapable of emotion.

Hope, fear, and energy seemed to have forsaken the old sailor, who,
usually so fond of thinking aloud, had not now sufficient spirit left,
even for the anathematizing of his enemies.



CHAPTER LXXVII.

EL HAJJI.


Late in the evening of the second night spent within the walls of the
town, two travellers knocked at the gate for admittance.

One of them gave a name which created quite a commotion in the village,
all seeming eager to receive the owner with some show of hospitality.

The merchants sat up to a late hour in company with these strangers and
the sheik of the place. Kids were caught and killed, and a savory stew
was soon served up for their guests, while, with coffee, pipes, and many
customary civilities, the time slipped quickly by.

Notwithstanding this, they were astir upon the following morning before
daybreak, busied in making preparations for their journey.

The slaves, on being allowed some breakfast, were commanded to eat it in
all haste, and then assist in preparing the animals for the road.

They were also informed that they were to be taken south, and sold.

"Shall we go, or die?" asked Colin. "I, for one, had rather die than
again pass through the hardships of a journey in the desert."

Neither of the others made any reply to this. The spirit of despair had
taken too strong a hold upon them.

The merchants themselves were obliged to caparison their animals; and
just as they were about to use some strong arguments to induce their
refractory slaves to mount, they were told that "El Hajji" ("the
pilgrim") wished to see the Christians.

Soon after, one of the strangers who had entered the town so late on the
night before was seen slowly approaching.

He was a tall, venerable-looking Arab, with a long white beard reaching
down to the middle of his breast. His costume, by its neatness and the
general costliness of the articles of which it was composed, bespoke him
a man of the better class, and his bearing was nowise inferior to his
guise.

Having performed the pilgrimage to the Prophet's Tomb, he commanded the
respect and hospitality of all good Mussulmans whithersoever he
wandered.

With the Krooman as interpreter, he asked many questions, and seemed to
be much interested in the fate of the miserable-looking objects before
him.

After his curiosity had been satisfied as to the name of the vessel in
which they had reached the country, the time they had passed in slavery,
and the manner of their treatment which had produced their emaciated and
wretched appearance, he made inquiries about their friends and relatives
at home.

Harry informed him that Colin and himself had parents, brothers, and
sisters, who were now probably mourning them as lost: that they and
their two companions were sure to be ransomed, could they find some one
who would take them to Mogador. He also added, that their present
masters had promised to take them to that place, but were now prevented
from doing so through the fear that they would not be rewarded for their
trouble.

"I will do all I can to assist you," said El Hajji, after the Krooman
had given the interpretation of Harry's speech. "I owe a debt of
gratitude to one of your countrymen, and I shall try to repay it. When
in Cairo I was unwell, and starving for the want of food. An officer of
an English ship of war gave me a coin of gold. That piece of money
proved both life and fortune to me; for with it I was able to continue
my journey, and reach my friends. We are all the children of the true
God; and it is our duty to assist one another. I will have a talk with
your masters."

The old pilgrim then turning to the three merchants, said,--

"My friends, you have promised to take these Christian slaves to
Swearah, where they will be redeemed. Are you bad men who fear not God,
that your promise should be thus broken?"

"We think they have deceived us," answered one of the merchants, "and we
are afraid to carry them within the emperor's dominions for fear they
will be taken from us without our receiving anything. We are poor men,
and nearly all our merchandise we have given for these slaves. We cannot
afford to lose them."

"You will not lose the value of them," said the old man, "if you take
them to Swearah. They belong to a country the government of which will
not allow its subjects to remain in bondage; and there is not an English
merchant in Swearah that would not redeem them. A merchant who should
refuse to do so would scarce dare return to his own country again. You
will make more by taking them to Swearah than anywhere else."

"But they can give themselves up to the governor when they reach
Swearah," urged one of the merchants, "and we may be ordered out of the
country without receiving a single cowrie for all. Such has been done
before. The good sheik here knows of an Arab merchant who was treated
so. He lost all, while the governor got the ransom, and put it in his
own pocket."

This was an argument El Hajji was unable to answer but he was not long
in finding a plan for removing the difficulty thus presented.

"Do not take them within the Empire of Morocco," said he, "until after
you have been paid for them. Two of you can stay with them here, while
the other goes to Swearah with a letter from this young man to his
friends. You have as yet no proof that he is trying to deceive you; and
therefore, as true men, have no excuse for breaking your promise to him.
Take a letter to Swearah; and if the money be not paid, then do with
them as you please, and the wrong will not rest upon you."

Bo Muzem, one of the merchants, immediately seconded the pilgrim's
proposal, and spoke energetically in its favor.

He said that they were but one day's journey from Agadeez, a frontier
town of Morocco; and that from there Swearah could be reached in three
days.

The merchants for a few minutes held consultation apart, and then one of
them announced that they had resolved upon following El Hajji's advice.
Bo Muzem should go to Swearah as the bearer of a letter from Harry to
his uncle.

"Tell the young man," said one of the merchants, addressing himself to
the interpreter, "tell him, from me, that if the ransom be not paid, he
shall surely die on Bo Muzem's return. Tell him that."

The Krooman made the communication, and Harry accepted the terms.

A piece of dirty crumpled paper, a reed, and some ink was then placed
before Harry; and while the letter was being written, Bo Muzem commenced
making preparations for his journey.

Knowing that their only hope of liberty depended on their situation
being made known to some countrymen resident in Mogador, Harry took up
the pen, and, with much difficulty, succeeded in scribbling the
following letter:--

     "SIR,--Two midshipmen of H. M. S. ---- (lost a few weeks ago north
     of Cape Blanco), and two seamen are now held in slavery at a small
     town one day's journey from Santa Cruz. The bearer of this note is
     one of our masters. His business in Mogador is to learn if we will
     be ransomed and if he is unsuccessful in finding any one who will
     pay the money to redeem us, the writer of this note is to be
     killed. If you cannot or will not pay the money they require (one
     hundred and fifty dollars for each slave), direct the bearer to
     some one whom you think will do so.

     "There is a midshipman from the same vessel, and another English
     sailor one day's journey south of this place.

     "Perhaps the bearer of this note, Bo Muzem, may be induced to
     obtain them, so that they also may be ransomed.

     "Henry Blount."

This letter Harry folded, and directed to "Any English merchant in
Mogador."

By the time it was written, Bo Muzem was mounted, and ready for the
road.

After receiving the letter, he wished Harry to be informed once more,
that, should the journey to Swearah be fruitless, nothing but his
(Harry's) life would compensate him for the disappointment.

After promising to be back in eight days, and enjoining upon his
partners to look well after their property during his absence, Bo Muzem
took his departure from the town.



CHAPTER LXXVIII.

BO MUZEM'S JOURNEY.


Although an Arab merchant, Bo Muzem was an honest man,--one who in all
business transactions told the truth, and expected to hear it from
others.

He pursued his journey towards Mogador with but a faint hope that the
representations made by Harry Blount would prove true, and with the
determination of taking the life of the latter, should he find himself
deceived. He placed more faith in the story told him by the sheik, than
in the mere supposition of the pilgrim, that the white slaves would find
some one to ransom them. For often,--alas too often!--the hopes which
captives have dwelt on for tedious months, until they have believed them
true, have proved, when put to the test, but empty and fallacious
dreams.

His journey was partly undertaken through a sense of duty. After the
promise made to the slaves, he thought it but right to become fully
convinced that they would not be redeemed before the idea of taking them
to Mogador should be relinquished.

He pressed forward on his journey with the perseverance and self-denial
so peculiar to the race. After crossing the spurs of the Atlas Mountain
near Santa Cruz, he reached, on the evening of the third day, a small
walled town, within three hours ride of Mogador.

Here he stopped for the night, intending to proceed to the city early on
the next morning. Immediately after entering the town, Bo Muzem met a
person whose face wore a familiar look.

It was the man to whom but a few days before, he had sold Terence and
Jim.

"Ah! my friend, you have ruined me," exclaimed the Arab grazier, after
their first salutations had passed. "I have lost those two useless
Christian dogs you sold me, and I am ruined."

Bo Muzem asked him to explain.

"After your departure," said the grazier, "I tried to get some work out
of the infidels; but they would not obey, and I believe they would have
died before doing anything to make themselves useful. As I am a poor
man, I could not afford to keep them in idleness, nor to kill them,
which I had a strong inclination to do. The day after you left me, I
received intelligence from Swearah which commanded me to go there
immediately on business of importance; and thinking that possibly some
Christian fool in that place might give something for their infidel
countrymen, I took the slaves along with me.

"They promised that if I would take them to the English Consul, he would
pay a large price for their ransom. When we entered Mogador, and reached
the Consul's house, the dogs told me that they were free, and defied me
trying to take them out of the city, or obtaining anything for my
trouble or expense. The governor of Swearah and the Emperor of Morocco
are on good terms with the infidel's government, and they also hate us
Arabs of the desert. There is no justice there for us. If you take your
slaves into the city you will lose them."

"I shall not take them into the empire of Morocco," said Bo Muzem,
"until I have first received the money for them."

"You will never get it in Swearah. Their consul will not pay a dollar,
but will try to get them liberated without giving you anything."

"But I have a letter from one of my slaves to his uncle,--a nut merchant
in Swearah. The uncle must pay the money."

"The slave has lied to you. He has no uncle there, and I can soon
convince you that such is the case. There is lying in this place a
Mogador Jew, who is acquainted with every infidel merchant in that
place, and he also understands the languages they speak. Let him see the
letter."

Anxious to be convinced as to whether he was being deceived or not, Bo
Muzem readily agreed to this proposition; and in company with the
graziers, he repaired to the house where the Jew was staying for the
night.

The Jew, on being shown the letter, and asked to whom it was addressed,
replied,--

"To any English merchant in Mogador."

"_Bismillah!_" exclaimed Bo Muzem. "All English merchants cannot be
uncles to the young dog who wrote this letter."

"Tell me," added he, "did you ever hear of an English merchant in
Swearah named 'For God sake byas?'"

The Jew smiled, and with some difficulty restraining an inclination to
laugh outright at the question, gave the Arab a translation of the
words, "For God's sake buy us."

Bo Muzem was now satisfied that he had been "sold."

"I shall go no farther," said he, after they had parted with the Jew. "I
shall return to my partners. We will kill the Christian dog who wrote
the letter, and sell the rest for what we can get for them."

"That is your best plan," rejoined the grazier. "They do not deserve
freedom, and may Allah forbid that hereafter any true believers should
try to help them to it."

Early the next morning Bo Muzem set out on his return journey, thankful
for the good fortune that had enabled him so early to detect the
imposture that was being practised upon him.

He was accompanied by the grazier, who chanced to be journeying in the
same direction.

"The next Christian slaves I see for sale I intend to buy them,"
remarked the latter, as they journeyed along.

"Bismallah!" exclaimed Bo Muzem, "that is strange. I thought you had had
enough of them?"

"So I have," answered the grazier; "but that's just why I want more of
them. I want revenge on the unbelieving dogs; and will buy them for the
purpose of obtaining it. I work them until they are too old to do
anything and then let them die of hunger."

"Then buy those we have for sale," proposed Bo Muzem. "We are willing to
sell them cheap, all but one. The one who wrote this letter I shall
kill. I have sworn it by the prophet's beard."

As both parties appeared anxious for a bargain, they soon came to an
understanding as to the terms; and the grazier promised to give ten
dollars in money, and four head of horses for each of the slaves that
were for sale. He also agreed that one of his herdsmen should assist in
driving the cattle to any Arab settlement where a market might be found
for them.

The simple Bo Muzem had now in reality been "sold," for the story he had
been told about the escape of the two slaves, Terence and Jim, was
wholly and entirely false.



CHAPTER LXXIX.

RAIS MOURAD.


Six days passed, during which the white slaves were comparatively well
treated, far better than at any other time since their shipwreck. They
were not allowed to suffer with thirst, and were supplied with nearly as
much food as they required.

On the sixth day after the departure of Bo Muzem, they were visited by
their masters, accompanied by a stranger, who was a Moor.

They were commanded to get upon their feet; and were then examined by
the Moor in a manner that awakened suspicion that he was about to buy
them.

The Moor wore a caftan richly embroidered on the breast and sleeves; and
confined around the waist with a silken vest or girdle.

A pair of small yellow Morocco-leather boots were seen beneath trowsers
of great width, made of the finest satin, and on his head was worn a
turban of scarlet silk.

Judging from the respect shown to him by the merchants, he was an
individual of much importance. This was also evident from the number of
his followers, all of whom were mounted on beautiful Arabian horses, the
trappings of which were made from the finest and most delicately shaded
leathers, bestudded beautifully with precious metals and stones.

The appearance of his whole retinue gave evidence that he was some
personage of wealth and influence.

After he had examined the slaves, he retired with the two merchants; and
shortly afterwards the Krooman learnt from one of the followers that the
white slaves had become the property of the wealthy Moor.

The bright anticipations of liberty that had filled their souls for the
last few days, vanished at this intelligence. Each felt a shock of
pain,--of hopeless despair,--that for some moments stunned them almost
to speechlessness.

Harry Blount was the first to awaken to the necessity of action.

"Where are our masters the merchants?" he exclaimed. "They cannot--they
shall not sell us. Come, all of you follow me!"

Reaching forth from the pens that had been allowed them for a residence,
the young Englishman, followed by his companions, started towards the
dwelling of the sheik, to which the merchants and the Moor had retired.

All were now excited with disappointment and despair; and on reaching
the sheik's house, the two Arab merchants were called out to witness a
scene of anger and grief.

"Why have you sold us?" asked the Krooman when the merchant came forth.
"Have you not promised that we should be taken to Swearah, and has not
one gone there to obtain the money for our ransom?"

The merchants were on good terms with themselves and all the world
besides. They had made what they believed to be a good bargain; and were
in a humor for being agreeable.

Moreover they did not wish to be thought guilty of a wrong, even by
Christian slaves, and they therefore condescended to give some
explanation.

"Suppose," said one of them, "that our master Bo Muzem should find a man
in Swearah who is willing to ransom you, how much are we to get for
you?"

"One hundred dollars for me," answered the Krooman, "and one hundred and
fifty for each of the others."

"True; and for that we should have to take you to Swearah, and be at the
expense of feeding you along the road?"

"Yes."

"Well, Rais Mourad, a wealthy Moor, has paid us one hundred and fifty
dollars for each of you; and would we not be fools to take you all the
way to Swearah for less money? Besides we might never get paid at
Swearah,--whereas we have received it in cash from Rais Mourad. You are
no longer our slaves, but his."

When the Krooman had made this communication to the others, they saw
that all further parley with the Arab merchants was useless; and that
their fate was now in the hands of Rais Mourad.

At Harry's request, the Krooman endeavored to ascertain in what
direction the Moor was going to take them; but the only information they
received was that Rais Mourad knew his own business, and was not in the
habit of conferring with his slaves as to what he should do with them.

Some of the followers of the Moor now came forward; and the slaves were
ordered back to their pen, where they found some food awaiting them.
They were commanded to eat it immediately, as they were soon to set
forth upon a long journey.

Not one of them, after their cruel disappointment, had any appetite for
eating; and Sailor Bill doggedly declared that he would never taste food
again.

"Don't despair, Bill," said Harry; "there is yet hope for us."

"Where?--where is it?" exclaimed Colin; "I can't perceive it."

"If we are constantly changing owners," argued Harry, "we may yet fall
into the hands of some one who will take us to Mogador."

"Is that your only hope?" asked Colin, in a tone of disappointment.

"Think of poor Jim," added Bill; "he's 'ad fifty masters,--been ten
years in slavery, and not free yet; and no hope on it neyther."

"Shall we go quietly with our new master?" asked Colin.

"Yes," answered Harry; "I have had quite enough of resistance, and the
beating that is sure to follow it. My back is raw at this moment. The
next time I make any resistance, it shall be when there is a chance of
gaining something by it, besides a sound thrashing."

Rais Mourad being unprovided with animals for his slaves to ride upon,
and wishing to travel at a greater speed than they could walk, purchased
four small horses from the sheik, and it was during the time these
horses were being caught and made ready for the road, that the slaves
were allowed to eat their dinner.

Although Harry, as well as the others, had determined on making no
opposition to going away with Rais Mourad, they were very anxious to
learn where he intended to take them.

All the inquiries made by the Krooman for the purpose of gratifying
their curiosity, only produced the answer, "God knows, and will not tell
you. Why should we do more than Him?"

Just as the horses were brought out, and all were nearly ready for a
start, there was heard a commotion at the gate of the town; and next
moment Bo Muzem, accompanied by three other Arabs, rode in through the
gateway.



CHAPTER LXXX.

BO MUZEM BACK AGAIN.


As soon as the white slaves recognized Bo Muzem, they all rushed forward
to meet him.

"Speak, Krooman!" exclaimed Harry. "Ask him if the money for our ransom
will be paid? If so, we are free, and they dare not sell us again."

"Here,--here!" exclaimed Bill, pointing to one of the Arabs who came
with Bo Muzem. "Ax this man where be brother Jim an' Master Terence?"

Harry and Colin turned towards the man from whom Bill desired this
inquiry to be made, and recognized in him the grazier, to whom Terence
and Jim had been sold.

The Krooman had no opportunity for putting the question; for Bo Muzem,
on drawing near to the gate of the town, had allowed his passion to
mount into a violent rage; and as he beheld the slaves, shouted out,
"Christian dogs! you have deceived me. Let every man, woman, and child,
in this town assemble, and be witnesses of the fate that this lying
Christian so richly deserves. Let all witness the death of this young
infidel, who has falsely declared he has an uncle in Swearah, named 'For
God's sake buy us.' Let all witness the revenge Bo Muzem will take on
the unbelieving dog who has deceived him."

As soon as Bo Muzem's tongue was stopped sufficiently to enable him to
hear the voices of those around him, he was informed that the slaves
were all sold,--the nephew of "For God's sake buy us," among the rest,
and on better terms than he and his partners had expected to get at
Swearah.

Had Harry Blount been rescued, Bo Muzem would have been much pleased at
this news; but he now declared that his partners had no right to sell
without his concurrence,--that he owned an interest in them; and that
the one who had deceived him should not be sold, but should suffer the
penalty incurred, by sending him on his long and fruitless journey.

Rais Mourad now came upon the ground. The Moor was not long in
comprehending all the circumstances connected with the affair. He
ordered his followers to gather around the white slaves and escort them
outside the walls of the town.

Bo Muzem attempted to prevent this order from being executed. He was
opposed by everybody, not only by the Moor, but his own partners, as
well as the sheik of the town, who declared that there should be no
blood spilled among those partaking of his hospitality.

The slaves were mounted on the horses that had been provided for them,
and then conducted through the gateway leaving Bo Muzem half frantic
with impotent rage.

There was but one man to sympathize with him in his disappointment, the
grazier to whom Terence and Jim had been sold, and who had made
arrangements for the purchase of the others.

Riding up to the Moor, this man declared that the slaves were his
property; that he had purchased them the day before, and had given four
horses and ten dollars in money for each.

He loudly protested against being robbed of his property, and declared
that he would bring two hundred men, if necessary, for the purpose of
taking possession of his own.

Rais Mourad, paying no attention to this threat, gave orders to his
followers to move on; and, although it was now almost night, started off
in the direction of Santa Cruz.

Before they had proceeded far, they perceived the Arab grazier riding at
full speed in the opposite direction, and towards his own home.

"I wish that we had made some inquiries of that fellow about Jim and
Terence," said Colin; "but it's too late now."

"Yes, too late," echoed Harry, "and I wish that he had obtained
possession of us instead of our present master. We should then have all
come together again. But what are we to think of this last turn of
Fortune's wheel?"

"I am rather pleased at it," answered Colin. "A while ago we were in
despair, because the Moor had bought us. That was a mistake. If he had
not done so, you Harry would have been killed."

"Bill!" added the young Scotchman, turning to the old sailor, "what are
you dreaming about?"

"Nothing," answered Bill, "I'm no goin to drame or think any mair."

"We ah gwine straight for Swearah," observed the Krooman as he spoke,
glancing towards the northwest.

"That is true," exclaimed Harry, looking in the same direction. "Can it
be that we are to be taken into the empire of Morocco? If so, there is
hope for us yet."

"But Bo Muzem could find no one who would pay the money for our ransom,"
interposed Colin.

"He nebba go thar," said the Krooman. "He nebba had de time."

"I believe the Krooman is right," said Harry. "We have been told that
Mogador is four days' journey from here, and the Arab was gone but six
days."

The conversation of the slaves was interrupted by the Moors, who kept
constantly urging them to greater speed.

The night came on very dark, but Rais Mourad would not allow them to
move at a slower pace.

Sailor Bill, being as he declared unused to "navigate any sort o' land
craft," could only keep his seat on the animal he bestrode, by allowing
it to follow the others, while he clutched its mane with a firm grasp of
both hands.

The journey was continued until near midnight, when the old sailor,
unable any longer to endure the fatigue, managed to check the pace of
his horse, and dismount.

The Moors endeavored to make him proceed, but were unsuccessful.

Bill declared that should he again be placed on the horse, he should
probably fall off and break his neck.

This was communicated to Rais Mourad, who had turned back in a rage to
inquire the cause of the delay. It was the Krooman who acted as
interpreter.

The Moor's anger immediately subsided on learning that one of the slaves
could speak Arabic.

"Do you and your companions wish for freedom?" asked the Moor,
addressing himself to the Krooman.

"We pray for it every hour."

"Then tell that foolish man that freedom is not found here--that to
obtain it he must move on with me."

The Krooman made the communication as desired.

"I don't want to hear any more about freedom," answered Bill; "I've
'eard enough ov it. If any on 'em is goin' to give us a chance for
liberty, let 'em do it without so many promises."

The old sailor remained obstinate.

Neither entreaties nor threats could induce him to go farther; and Rais
Mourad gave orders to his followers to halt upon the spot, as he
intended to stay there for the remainder of the night. The halt was
accordingly made, and a temporary camp established.

Although exhausted with their long, rough ride, Harry and Colin could
not sleep. The hope of liberty was glowing too brightly within their
bosoms.

This hope had not been inspired by anything that had been said or done
by Rais Mourad; for they now placed no trust in the promises of any one.

Their hopes were simply based upon the belief that they were now going
towards Mogador, that the Moor, their master, was an intelligent man--a
man who might know that he would not lose his money by taking English
subjects to a place where they would be sure of being ransomed.



CHAPTER LXXXI.

A PURSUIT.


At the first appearance of day, Rais Mourad ordered the march to be
resumed, over a long ridge of sand. The sun soon after rising, on a high
hill about four leagues distant were seen the white walls of the city of
Santa Cruz, or, as it is called by the Arabs, Agadez. Descending the
sand ridge, the cavalcade moved over a level plain covered with grain
crops, and dotted here and there with small walled villages surrounded
by plantations of vines and date-trees.

At one of the villages near the road the cavalcade made a halt, and was
admitted within the walls. Throwing themselves down in the shade of some
date-trees, the white slaves soon fell into a sound slumber.

Three hours after they were awakened to eat a small compound of hot
barley-cakes and honey.

Before they had finished their repast, Rais Mourad came up to the spot,
and began a conversation with the Krooman.

"What does the Moor say?" inquired Harry.

"He say dat if we be no bad, and we no cheat him, he take us to Sweareh,
to de English Consul."

"Of course we will promise that, or anything else," assented Harry, "and
keep the promise too, if we can. He will be sure to be well paid for us.
Tell him that!"

The Krooman obeyed: and the Moor, in reply, said that he was well aware
that he would be paid something by the Consul, but that he required a
written promise from the slaves themselves as to the amount.

He wanted them to sign an agreement that he should be paid two hundred
dollars for each one of them.

This they readily assented to, and the Moor then produced a piece of
paper, a reed, and some ink.

Rais Mourad wrote the agreement himself in Arabic, on one side of the
paper, and then, reading it sentence by sentence, requested the Krooman
to translate it to his companions.

The translation given by the Krooman was--

     "To English Consul,--

     "We be four Christian slave. Rais Mourad buy us of Arab. We promise
     to gib him two hundred dollar for one, or eight hundred dollar for
     four, if he take us to you. Please pay him quick."

Harry and Colin signed the paper without any hesitation, and it was then
handed with the pen to Sailor Bill.

The old sailor took the paper; and, after carefully surveying every
object around him, walked up to one of the saddles lying on the ground a
few paces off.

Spreading the paper on the saddle, he sat down, and very deliberately
set about the task of making his autograph.

Slowly as the hand of a clock moving over the face of a dial, Bill's
hand passed over the paper, while his head oscillated from side to side
as each letter was formed.

After Bill had succeeded in painting a few characters which, in his
opinion, expressed the name of William McNeal, Harry was requested to
write a similar agreement on the other side of the paper, which they
were also to sign.

Rais Mourad was determined on being certain that his slaves had put
their names to such an agreement as he wished, and therefore had written
it himself, so that he might not be deceived.

About two hours before sunset all were again in the saddle; and, riding
out of the gateway, took a path leading up the mountain on which stands
the city of Santa Cruz.

When about half-way up, a party of horsemen, between twenty and thirty
in number, was seen coming after them at full speed.

Rais Mourad remembered the threat made by the grazier who claimed the
slaves as his property, and every exertion was made to reach the city
before his party could be overtaken.

The horses ridden by the white slaves were small animals, in poor
condition, and were unable to move up the hill with much speed, although
their riders had been reduced by starvation to the very lightest of
weights.

Before reaching the level plain on the top of the hill, the pursuers
gained on them rapidly, and had lessened the distance between the two
parties by nearly half a mile. The nearest gate of the city was still
more than a mile ahead, and towards it the Moors urged their horses with
all the energy that could be inspired by oaths, kicks, and blows.

As they neared the gate the herds of their pursuers were seen just
rising over the crest of the hill behind them. But as Rais Mourad saw
that his slaves were now safe, he checked his steed, and the few yards
that remained of the journey were performed at a slow pace, for the Moor
did not wish to enter the gate of a strange city in a hasty or
undignified manner.

No delay on passing the sentinels, and in five minutes more the weary
slaves dismounted from their nearly exhausted steeds, and were commanded
by Rais Mourad to thank God that they had arrived safe in the Empire of
Morocco.

In less than a quarter of an hour after Bo Muzem and the grazier rode
through the gateway, accompanied by a troop of fierce-looking Arab
horsemen.

The wrath of the merchant seemed to have waxed greater in the interval,
and he appeared as if about to make an immediate attack upon Harry
Blount, the chief object of his spiteful vengeance.

In this he was prevented by Rais Mourad, who appealed to an officer of
the city guard to protect him.

The officer informed the merchant that while within the walls of the
city he must not molest other people, and Bo Muzem was compelled to give
his word that he would not do so: that is to say, he was bound over to
keep the peace.

The other Arabs, in whose company they had come, were also given to
understand that they were in a Moorish city; and, as they saw that they
were powerless to do harm without meeting with punishment, their fierce
deportment soon gave way to a demeanor more befitting the streets of a
civilized town.

Both pursued and pursuers were cautioned against any infringement of the
laws of the place; and as a different quarter was assigned to each
party, all chances of a conflict were, for the time, happily frustrated.



CHAPTER LXXXII.

MOORISH JUSTICE.


The next morning, Rais Mourad was summoned to appear before the governor
of the city. He was ordered, also, to bring his slaves along with him.
He had no reluctance in obeying these orders, and a soldier conducted
him and his followers to the governor's house.

Bo Muzem and the grazier were there before them; and the governor soon
after made his appearance in the room where both parties were waiting.

He was a fine-looking man, of venerable aspect, about sixty-five years
of age, and, from his appearance, Harry and Colin had but little fear of
the result of his decision in an appeal that might be made against them.

Bo Muzem was the first to speak. He stated that, in partnership with two
other merchants, he had purchased the four slaves then present. He had
never given his consent to the sale made by his partners to the Moor;
and there was one of them whom it had been distinctly understood was not
to be sold at all. That slave he now claimed as his own property. He had
been commissioned by his partners to go to Swearah, and there dispose of
the slaves. He had sold the other two to his friend Mahommed, who was
present. He had no claim on them. Mahommed, the grazier was their
present owner.

The grazier was now called upon to make his statement.

This was soon done. All he had to say was, that he had purchased three
Christian slaves from his friend, Bo Muzem, and had given four horses
and ten dollars in money for each of them. They had been taken away by
force by the Moor, Rais Mourad, from whom he now claimed them.

Rais Mourad was next called upon to answer the accusation. The question
was put, why he retained possession of another man's property.

In reply, he stated that he had purchased them of two Arab merchants,
and had paid for them on the spot; giving one hundred and fifty silver
dollars for each.

After the Moor had finished his statement, the governor remained silent
for an interval of two or three minutes.

Presently, turning to Bo Muzem, he asked, "Did your partners offer you a
share of the money they received for the slaves?"

"Yes," answered the merchant, "but I would not accept it."

"Have you, or your partners, received from the man, who claims three of
the slaves, twelve horses and thirty dollars?"

After some hesitation, Bo Muzem answered in the negative.

"The slaves belong to the Moor, Rais Mourad, who has paid the money for
them," said the governor, "and they shall not be taken from him here.
Depart from my presence, all of you."

All retired, and, as they did so, the grazier was heard to mutter that
there was no justice for Arabs in Morocco.

Rais Mourad gave orders to his followers to prepare for the road; and
just as they were ready to start, he requested Bo Muzem to accompany him
outside the walls of the city.

The merchant consented, on condition that his friend Mahommed the
grazier should go along with them.

"My friend," said Rais Mourad, addressing Bo Muzem, "you have been
deceived. Had you taken these Christians to Swearah, as you promised,
you would have certainly been paid for them all that you could
reasonably have asked. I live in Swearah, and was obliged to make a
journey to the south upon urgent business. Fortunately, on my return, I
met with your partners, and bought their slaves from them. The profit I
shall make on them will more than repay me all the expenses of my
journey. The man Mahommed, whom you call your friend, has bought two
other Christians. He has sold them to the English Consul. Having made
two hundred dollars by that transaction, he was anxious to trade you out
of these others, and make a few hundred more. He was deceiving you for
the purpose of obtaining them. There is but one God, Mahomet is his
prophet, and you are a fool!"

Bo Muzem required no further evidence in confirmation of the truth of
this statement. He could not doubt that the Moor was an intelligent man,
who knew what he was about when buying the slaves. The grazier Mahommed
had certainly purchased the two slaves spoken of, had acknowledged
having carried them to Swearah, and was now anxious to obtain the
others.

All was clear to him now; and for a moment he stood mute and motionless,
under a sense of shame at his own stupidity.

This feeling was succeeded by one of wild rage against the man who had
so craftily outwitted him.

Drawing his scimitar, he rushed towards the grazier, who, having been
attentive to all that was said, was not wholly unprepared for the
attack.

The Arabs never acquire much skill in the use of the scimitar, and an
affair between them with these weapons is soon decided.

The contest between the merchant and his antagonist was not an exception
to other affrays between their countrymen. It was a strife for life or
death, witnessed by the slaves who felt no sympathy for either of the
combatants.

A mussulman in a quarrel generally places more dependence on the justice
of his cause than either on his strength or skill; and when such is not
the case much of his natural prowess is lost to him.

Confident in the rectitude of his indignation, Bo Muzem, with his
Mohammedan ideas of fatalism, was certain that the hour had not yet
arrived for him to die; nor was he mistaken.

His impetuous onset could not be resisted by a man unfortified with the
belief that he had acted justly: and Mahommed the grazier was soon sent
to the ground, rolling in the dust in the agonies of death.

"There's one less on 'em anyhow," exclaimed Sailor Bill, as he saw the
Arab cease to live. "I wish he had brought brother Jem and Master
Terence here. I wonder what he has done wi' 'em?"

"We should learn, if possible," answered Harry, "and before we get any
farther away from them. Suppose we speak to the Moor about them? He may
be able to obtain them in some way."

At Harry's request, the Krooman proceeded to make the desired
communication, but was prevented by Rais Mourad ordering the slaves into
their places for the purpose of continuing the journey which this tragic
incident had interrupted.

After cautioning Bo Muzem to beware of the followers of Mahommed, who
now lay dead at their feet, the Moor, at the head of his kafila, moved
off in the direction of Mogador.



CHAPTER LXXXIII.

THE JEW'S LEAP.


The road followed by Rais Mourad on the day after leaving Santa Cruz was
through a country of very uneven surface.

Part of the time the kafila would be in a narrow valley by the seashore,
and in the next hour following a zigzag path on the side of some
precipitous mountain.

In such places the kafila would have to proceed in single file, while
the Moors would be constantly cautioning the slaves against falling from
the backs of their animals.

While stopping for an hour at noon for the horses to rest, the Krooman
turned over a flat stone, and underneath it found a large scorpion.

After making a hole in the sand about six inches deep, and five or six
in diameter, he put the reptile into it.

He then went in search of a few more scorpions to keep the prisoner
company. Under nearly every stone he turned over, one or two of these
reptiles were found, all of which were cast into the hole where he had
placed the first.

When he had secured about a dozen within the prison from which they
could not escape, he began teasing them with a stick.

Enraged at this treatment the reptiles commenced a mortal combat among
themselves, a sight which was witnessed by the white slaves with about
the same interest as that between the two Arabs in the morning. In other
words, they did not care which got the worst of it.

A battle between two scorpions would commence with much active
skirmishing on both sides, each seeking to fasten its claws on the
other.

When one of the reptiles would succeed in getting a fair grip, its
adversary would exhibit every disposition to surrender, apparently
begging for its life, but all to no purpose, as no quarter would be
given.

The champion would inflict the fatal sting; and the unfortunate reptile
receiving it would die immediately after.

After all the scorpions had been killed except one, the Krooman himself
finished the survivor with a blow of his stick.

When rebuked by Harry for what the latter regarded as an act of wanton
cruelty, he answered that it was the duty of every man to kill
scorpions.

In the afternoon they reached a place called the Jew's Leap. It was a
narrow path along the side of a mountain, the base of which was washed
by the sea.

The path was about half a mile long and not more than four or five feet
broad. The right hand side was bounded by a wall of rocks, in some
places perpendicular and rising to a height of several hundred feet.

On the left hand side was the sea, about four hundred feet below the
level of the path.

There was no hope for any one who should fall from this path,--no hope
but heaven.

Not a bush, tree, or any obstacle was seen to offer the slightest
resistance to the downward course of a falling body.

The Krooman had passed this way before, and informed his companions that
no one ever ventured on the path in wet weather; that it was at all
times considered dangerous; but that, as it saved a tiresome journey of
seven miles around the mountain, it was generally taken in dry weather.
He also told them that the name of "Jew's Leap" was given to the
precipice, from a party of Jews having once been forced over it.

It was in the night-time. They had met a numerous party of Moors coming
in the opposite direction. Neither party could turn back, a contest
arose, and several on both sides were hurled over the precipice into the
sea.

On this occasion as many Moors as Jews had been thrown from the path;
but it had pleased the former to give the spot the name of the "Jew's
Leap," which it still bears.

Before venturing upon this dangerous road, Rais Mourad was careful to
see that no one was coming from the opposite direction.

After shouting at the top of his voice, and hearing no reply, he led the
way, bidding his followers to trust more to their animals than to
themselves.

As the white slaves entered on the pass, two Moors were left behind to
follow them, and when all had proceeded a short distance along the
ledge, the horse ridden by Harry Blount became frightened. It was a
young animal, and having been reared on the plains of the desert, was
unused to mountain-road.

While the other horses were walking along very cautiously, Harry's steed
suddenly stopped, and refused to go any farther.

In such a place a rider has good cause to be alarmed at any eccentricity
of behavior in the animal he bestrides, and Harry was just preparing to
dismount, when the animal commenced making a retrograde movement, as if
determined to turn about.

Harry was behind his companions, and closely followed by one of the
Moors. The latter becoming alarmed for his own safety, struck the young
Englishman's horse a blow with his musket to make it move forward.

The next instant the hind legs of the refractory animal were over the
edge of the precipice, and its body, with the weight of its rider
clinging to his neck, was about evenly balanced as on the brink. The
horse made a violent struggle to avoid going over, with its nose and
fore feet laid close along the path, and vainly striving to regain the
position from which it had so imprudently parted.

At this moment its rider determined to make a desperate exertion for his
life.

Seizing the horse by the ears, and drawing himself up, he placed one
foot on the brink of the precipice, and then sprang clear over the
horse's head, just as the animal relinquished its hold! In another
instant the unfortunate quadruped was precipitated into the sea, its
body striking the water with a dull plunge, as if the life had already
gone out of it.

The remainder of the ledge was traversed without any difficulty; and
after all had got safely over, Harry's companions were loud in
congratulating him upon his narrow escape.

The youth remained silent.

His soul was too full of gratitude to God to give any heed to the words
of man.



CHAPTER LXXXIV.

CONCLUSION.


On the evening of the second day after passing the Jew's Leap, Rais
Mourad, with his following, reached the city of Mogador; but too late to
enter its gates, which were closed for the night.

For a great part of the night, Harry, Colin, and Sailor Bill were unable
to sleep.

They were kept awake by the memory of the sufferings they had endured in
slavery, but more by the anticipation of liberty, which they believed to
be now near.

They arose with the sun call, impatient to enter the city, and learn
their fate. Rais Mourad, knowing that no business could be done until
three or four hours later, would not permit them to pass into the gate.

For three hours they waited with the greatest impatience. So strongly
had their minds been elated with the prospect of getting free, that the
delay was creating the opposite extreme of despair, when they were again
elated at the sight of Rais Mourad returning to them.

Giving the command to his followers, he led the way into the city.

After passing through several narrow streets, on turning a corner, they
saw waving over the roof of one of the houses a sight that filled them
with joy inexpressible. It was the flag of Old England!

It indicated the residence of the English consul. On seeing it all three
gave forth a loud simultaneous cheer, and hastened forward, in the midst
of a crowd of Moorish men, women, and children.

Rais Mourad knocked at the gate of the consulate, which was opened; and
the white slaves were ushered into the court-yard. At the same instant
two individuals came running forth from the house. They were Terence and
Jim!

A fine looking man about fifty years of age, now stepped forward; and
taking Harry and Colin by the hand, congratulated them on the certainty
of soon recovering their liberty.

The presence of Terence and Jim in the consulate at Mogador, was soon
explained. The Arab grazier, after buying them, had started immediately
for Swearah, taking his slaves with him. On bringing them to the English
consul he was paid a ransom, and they were at once set free. At the same
time he had given his promise to purchase the other slaves and bring
them to Mogador.

The consul made no hesitation in paying the price that had been promised
for Harry, Colin, and Bill; but he did not consider himself justified in
expending the money of his government in the redemption of the Krooman,
who was not an English subject.

The poor fellow was overwhelmed with despair at the prospect of being
restored to a life of slavery.

His old companions in misfortune could not remain tranquil spectators of
his grief. They promised he should be free. Each of the middies had
wealthy friends on whom he could draw for money, and they were in hopes
that some English merchant in the city would advance the amount.

They were not disappointed. On the very next day the Krooman's
difficulty was settled to his satisfaction.

The consul having mentioned his case to several foreign merchants, a
subscription-list was opened, and the amount necessary to the purchase
of his freedom was easily obtained.

The three mids were furnished with plenty of everything they required,
and only waited the arrival of some English ship to carry them back to
the shores of their native land.

They had not long to wait; for shortly after, the tall masts of a
British man-of-war threw their shadows athwart the waters of Mogador
Bay.

The three middies were once more installed in quarters that befitted
them: while Sailor Bill and his brother, as well as their Krooman
comrade, found a welcome in the forecastle of the man-of-war.

All three of the young officers rose to rank and distinction in the
naval service of their country. It was their good fortune often to come
in contact with each other, and talk laughingly of that terrible time,
no longer viewed with dread or aversion, when all three of them were
serving their apprenticeship as Boy Slaves in the Saära.





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